Sugar is responsible for over 170 tooth extractions per day in the UK alone. British children are eating more than double the recommended amount of sugar. Commonly referred to as the white poison, this beloved ingredient affects not just your teeth but your heart, skin, and brain too.
Believe it or not, sugar addiction is real. Some sources claim that this ingredient is more addictive than cocaine. The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it. In the long run, this can increase your risk of heart disease, cause insulin resistance, and prematurely age your skin.
What most people don’t know is that sugar contributes to mental disorders and affects brain function. A diet rich in candy and other goodies might be the reason why you’re feeling down and experiencing mood swings. Your anxiety thrives on sugar.
How Does Sugar Affect Your Brain?
Several studies have linked sugary foods to anxiety and depression. This may come up as a surprise considering that most of us reach out for cookies and chocolate whenever we’re stressed or feeling down. Yet, sugar only makes things worse.
According to a study published last year, mental disorders are more common in people who consume sweet foods and beverages. Men who reported the highest sugar intake were more likely to develop depression over a five-year period. Researchers concluded that sugar consumption has long-term adverse effects on mental health.
This common ingredient affects your brain in more than one way. First of all, it causes insulin and blood glucose spikes followed by crashes. When your blood sugar drops, fatigue kicks in. Over time, this may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive decline, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
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A high sugar intake also triggers inflammation, which is the root cause of chronic diseases. This process also affects brain cell formation, leading to cognitive and behavioral problems.
Furthermore, sugar raises the stress hormone cortisol levels due to its effects on insulin production. When your insulin levels go up, so does cortisol.
In the long run, elevated cortisol disrupts adrenal function, promotes weight gain, and causes fatigue. It’s also a major contributing factor to chronic stress, depression, and anxiety.
Sugar and Your Mood
As you see, sugar consumption and poor mental health go hand in hand. But what about the feelings of euphoria you experience after eating candy or cake?
Until recently, it was believed that low serotonin levels are responsible for anxiety and depression. Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Most antidepressants work by increasing its levels.
According to recent studies, high, not low serotonin levels are making depression and anxiety worse. Sugar boosts serotonin production, triggering a series of neurochemical reactions that affect your mood.
This popular ingredient also alters gut flora, which in turn, can negatively impact your mental health. The human gut is actually called the second brain.
Even the slightest imbalance in the microbiota will reflect on your mood, memory, and cognitive function. Research shows that people with anxiety disorders have low levels of B. longum, L. helveticus and other good bacteria that play a key role in mental health.
These are just a few of the many side effects of sugar. Sweet foods not increase your waistline but also wreak havoc on your brain. Beware that sugar comes in many forms, including sucrose, fructose, and dextrose. Take the time to check food labels and seek healthier alternatives to this sweet poison.