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5 Ways That Sugar Affects Your Mental Health

In our heart-of-heart’s we all know that sugar is not good for us. Sugar is that love interest that never calls us back or that potential business partner that talks-the-talk but doesn’t walk-the-walk. In recent times, it seems like we’ve almost normalised our relationship to sugar. We have a few teaspoons of it in our coffee, a cup of it in our cakes and a fistful sprinkled on our pastries. Not to mention all the sugar hidden in our sport drinks and the seemingly healthy smoothies we drink. In the midst of our daily consumption, we never stop to think what impact it has on our mental health. We know it’s not healthy for our body, but how does it affect the brain?

1) Sugar Is A Brain Drain

Putting it short, sugar is a brain drain. A study from UCLA showed that a high fructose diet damages brain cells and impedes one’s ability to learn and memorize. The same study suggested that sugar could even have an effect on a person’s likelihood to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

2) Sugar Is An Emotional Rollercoaster

Sugar is also responsible for most of your mood-swings. Eating too much sugar causes your pancreas to release insulin in order to stabilize blood sugar-levels. This isn’t a problem if it occurs occasionally. However, the high-fructose diet consumed in most western countries causes severe fluctuations in blood-sugar levels which can leave you feeling unfocused, nervous and irritable.

3) Sugar Causes Panic Attacks

Or more accurately, a sudden and complete withdrawal of sugar from your diet will cause panic attacks. Throwing that last pack of sugar cubes in the trash can and going cold turkey can cause withdrawal symptoms that resemble certain drugs such as cocaine. This is because the body has formed a tolerance to sugar and has become accustomed to have it in its system. People with an underlying anxiety disorder will feel suffer from stronger withdrawal symptoms.

4) Sugar Causes Anxiety

Aside from the aforementioned fact that sugar can cause a person to feel irritable and nervous, sugar also weakens the body’s ability to respond to stress.

5) Sugar Consumption Leads To Depression

Consuming high doses of sugar on a regular basis can also affect your brain chemicals which impedes the cognitive ability of the brain and weakens its capability of fighting against depression. In the long-term, this can lead to serious mental health disorders. A 2017 study showed that men with a sugar consumption of 67 grams a day were almost 25% more likely to attain a diagnosis for clinical depression within five years. lot of people use sugar as a way of self-medicating during depression, which we highly recommend against doing.

Philip Andersson

Depression Counsellor



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