Most people know that eating too much dessert and processed food can contribute to physical health problems like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Far less attention, however, has been given to the impact of a high-sugar diet on mental health, even though numerous studies have shown the negative effects a sweet tooth can have on mood, learning and quality of life. In addition to increasing waistlines, sugar and other sweeteners, may contribute to a number of mental health problems:
The roller coaster of high blood sugar followed by a crash may accentuate the symptoms of mood disorders. Research has tied heavy sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression. As you know, if you have been following my coaching programme, our system releases hormones which activate specific responses in the body. Sugar suppresses activity of a hormone called BDNF that is low in individuals with depression. Sugar is also responsible for chronic inflammation, which impacts the immune system, the brain, and other systems in the body; inflammation has also been implicated in depression.
Although controversial, a growing body of evidence points to the addictive potential of sugar. Both drugs and—to a lesser extent—sugar and processed junk foods flood the brain with the feel-good chemical dopamine, which, over time, changes the function of the brain. A 2007 study showed that rats actually prefer sugar water to cocaine. Rats given fatty and sugary products demonstrated classic symptoms of addiction, including tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when the products were taken away.
A diet full of sugar and fat, does not necessarily cause anxiety, but it does appear to worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the body’s ability to cope with stress. Individuals who suffer from panic attacks, for example, are hyper-alert to signs of impending danger. Sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty thinking, and fatigue, all of which may be interpreted as signs of a panic attack, thereby increasing worry and fear. A sugar high and subsequent crash can cause shaking and tension, which can make anxiety worse. While dietary changes alone cannot cure anxiety, they can minimize symptoms, boost energy and improve the body’s ability to cope with stress.
4. Learning and Memory
Sugar may also compromise cognitive abilities such as learning and memory. The high sugar diet caused insulin resistance, which in turn damaged communications between brain cells that fuel learning and memory formation
Every food we eat has a mood altering quality. Our bodies need certain chemicals to function properly, including sugar, but excess consumption of any food-chemical will cause your body to go out of balance and will affect you physically, mentally and environmentally.