The Link Between Sugar And Depression
Mental Illness is one of the greatest threats to public health and economic productivity with depression and anxiety being among the fastest rising. In fact, Major Depressive Disorder is on track to become the leading cause of disability in high-income countries by 2030.
Research clearly links sugar to mental illness.
Mainstream medical journals have hundreds of articles definitively showing high sugar consumption leads to depression and anxiety. It also shows that reducing or eliminating sugar consumption can lead to the reversal of symptoms.
In August 2019, a meta-study was published in ScienceDirect that reviewed 300 studies and concluded the following:
“A diet high in sugars has been linked to cognitive impairments, negative neuroplasticity changes such as hippocampal dysfunction and emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.”
It went on to say:
“A diet higher in refined sugar has been shown to predict a worsening of schizophrenic behavior over a two-year period.”
“Neural plasticity that occurs as a result of long-term sugar consumption has been shown to reduce impulse control.”
In short, this article claims high sugar consumption damages the brain, leads to anxiety and depression, exacerbates existing mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. It also claims sugar consumption impairs impulse control.
In other words, the very substance that is damaging our mental health is * at the same time * blocking our ability to put the brakes on our consumption.
Sugar makes us feel bad and blocks our ability to stop doing the thing that makes us feel bad. Who can make these things up?
A July 27, 2017 article in a peer-reviewed medical journal (International Journal of Environment and Public Health) cites a study that followed more than 23,000 participants and concluded the following:
“Our research confirms an adverse effect of sugar intake from sweet food/beverage on long-term psychological health and suggests that lower intake of sugar may be associated with better psychological health.”
Additional studies suggest that sugar drives depression, and only after the depression has been experienced does it drive sugar consumption.
In other words, it is more uni-directional than we might think. This displaces the idea that depressed people eat more sugar because they are depressed, when in fact, science is suggesting high sugar consumption can lead to depression that then leads to greater sugar consumption.
Here are some of the ways Sugar leads to depression:
- Unstable Blood Sugar. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is linked to depression, anxiety, irritability, anger issues, and more
- Damage to Microbiome. We need healthy gut bacteria help us make B vitamins, serotonin, and hormones. In their absence we experience low energy and low mood.
- Nutritional Deficiencies. Sugar crowds out healthier food choices.
- Chronic Inflammation.
- Neurotransmitter Imbalance and Deficiencies.
- Reduced BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which impairs neurogenesis and leads to hippocampal atrophy
The list goes on.
Suffice it to say… if you suffer from depression, anxiety, low mood, irritability, etc. you can feel genuine hope that eliminating your consumption of refined carbs and boosting your consumption of whole foods (and other health-promoting interventions) can repair your brain and boost your mood.
There are hundreds of thousands of case studies within the sugar addiction field (and medical literature) that show you can reduce and reverse depression through diet.
This is not a promise, this is a possibility.
Don’t let your depression or anxiety tell you that you cannot or that you are not worth the effort. That is a lie. You can and you will under one condition: You want it, ask for it, and believe it. Start with believing.
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