It’s no secret that the standard Western diet is packed with sugar — in fact, it’s estimated that Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons per day. Too much glucose in the blood is actually toxic and is a driving force behind a range of health conditions, including diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer and yep — poor mental health.
Within one study, published in Life Sciences, a diet high in sugar was shown to increase symptoms of anxiety. Others have shown that a high-sugar diet directly influences dopamine, decreasing the activity of D2 receptors. With the being said, the large majority of research has focused on sugar withdrawal and its effect on anxiety-like behavior.
When rats were withdrawing from a liquid high-sugar diet, for instance, increased anxiety levels followed when placed in a maze. Within the amygdala of their brains, CRH also increased — a hormone and neurotransmitter that is related to stress responses. This has led to not only further anxiety research, but has provided key clues regarding food addiction as well.