Sugar and depression have been suspected as interconnected for a long time now. It is said to be one of the most guaranteed cures for depression – eat a candy and you’ll feel good! But now, with the emergence of scientific studies on how bad sugar can be for the body, can it really make you feel good?
Mood disorders are triggered by excess consumption of simple sugars
There you have it. The feeling of hunger makes you naturally miserable, bad-tempered, and irritable. This is the natural reaction of our brain and moods, both positively and negatively. According to Britain’s Brain Bio Centre, there is a clear link between a person’s mood and blood sugar balance. In fact, poor blood sugar balance is considered one of the major causes of mood disorders.
“Fluctuations in blood sugar also can change your mood. High blood sugar often can lead to irritability, while low blood sugar can bring about feelings of anxiety, depression and lethargy,” wrote Donna M. White, LMHC, CACP.
Sugar in the body must be balanced because it is an important component of a healthy diet. It is usually extracted from the fruits and vegetables’ complex carbohydrates so many think that it’s okay to over-consume. This is the problem in most Western diets.
Today, people get their carbohydrates from carbohydrates in processed food like:
- White bread (Other baked goods)
These processed foods have artificial sugar added to them. The sugars replace the important nutrients and vitamins for both mental and physical health, which can be harmful to the body.
The evidence is strong that sugar can cause depression
There are lots of studies showing sugar to be depression’s risk factor. According to a study conducted in 2002 that involves Canada, Germany, New Zealand, France, South Korea, and the U.S., sugar consumption is directly linked to the high rate of major depression in these six nations.
A similar study comprised of 3,456 middle-aged adults showed the following results:
58% who ate processed foods has increased depression risk
26% who ate whole foods has reduced depression risk
In another study that includes 8,000 people over 22 years – their diets were tracked, as well as the results of these diets. It showed that people who ate over 67 grams of sugar daily are 23% more likely to be depressed than those who ate 40 grams and less.
“The sugar and depression correlation surfaced during the first five-year survey (early on in the study) and continued as a significant correlation throughout the life of the study,” wrote Mary C. Wiley, PsyD.
And finally, another study that involves 70,000 postmenopausal women showed that those with higher glycemic index scores consumed a lot of refined grains and added sugars. This later leads to increased risk in depression.
All of these studies point towards one thing – people who consume processed foods (lots of salt and sugar) are the ones who are at most risk of depression. Having a hypoglycemic reaction when the blood sugar is low will make the body realign its entire chemistry by sending out stress hormones. This leads to the feeling of anxiety and lower moods.
“I like to tell my patients there’s a truth to the saying, ‘You are what you eat,’” said psychologist Deborah Serani, PsyD. “High levels of sugar in the form of simple carbohydrates leads to spikes and crashes in glucose levels, which can worsen mood, increase irritability, agitation, irregular sleeping, and increase inflammation.”
Empty calories are replacing important nutrients.
Empty calories are the factors that link simple sugars to depression. These calories replace the body’s nutrients, but also deplete the ones that are already in the brain, especially the B-vitamins and chromium. They are also responsible and related to the following:
- Mental Health Disorders
- Cardiovascular Disease
Diets involving high sugar affects the body in a way that it is not able to remove stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. It doesn’t include nutrients that can help with these hormones. On the other hand, diets involving fewer simple sugars help in providing protection against dementia and depression.
If you want to avoid depression, the best option is to reduce its risk factors and one factor you can watch out for is sugar consumption.