The connection between sugar and obesity, as well as type 2 diabetes, is becoming increasingly well-known throughout the Western world. However, what is not as frequently discussed is sugar’s relationship to mental health.
As it turns out, the poisonous sweet stuff can do just as much mental damage as physical damage, giving all the more weight to the notion that refined sugar is best avoided altogether.
We all know about the infamous “sugar crash” which happens after we eat something sugary, we feel super energetic for a few minutes. Then, very soon after, our blood sugar drops back down, and we feel groggy, tired and often irritable. This leads many of us to search for our next sugar fix, perpetuating the cycle.
However, on top of the temporary bad feelings that a sugar crash can cause, eating sugar has also been scientifically linked to depression. The authors of a 2012 study published in the Journal of Medicine and Life wrote, “a diet that is high in refined carbohydrates and sugars is a common factor in depressive illness.”
They add, “a large study conducted in 6 countries established a highly significant correlation between sugar consumption and the prevalence of depression. This relationship is yet unclear but a high intake of sugar may interfere with the production of neurotransmitters.”
The large study that the authors reference was performed in 2002 at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and also discusses a potential relationship between sugar and oxidative stress, which wreaks havoc on the body’s systems and may lead to a number of chronic conditions.
Aside from depression, consuming sugar can also make you angry. Dr. Alex Richardson of Oxford University states, “prison studies suggest that many inmates have poor blood sugar control, compounded by a high-sugar diet. We all know how it feels when blood sugar drops – we feel moody, foggy. Apply that to someone with a disturbed background.”
Additionally, sugar has been found to be toxic to the immune system. It can lead to system-wide inflammation, which is itself a key factor in chronic disease, and, according to Dr. Linus Pauling, high blood sugar can reduce the ability of white blood cells to fight pathogens by up to 75 percent.
All in all, if you want to feel your best physically and mentally, and reduce your risk of an array of illnesses – seasonal and chronic, physical and mental – choose to make your sugar habit a thing of the past.