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Could your sugar intake be affecting your mental health?

By December 12, 2018 No Comments

Depression, Anxiety and Sugar linkDepression? Anxiety? Here’s why you should avoid sugar.

You’ve probably seen the photos showing soft drinks next to little baggies illustrating their sugar content. You’ve likely heard doctors on TV talk about how bad sugar is for everyone – especially kids. You may have read the posts comparing sugar to cocaine or heroin. But did you know that sugar can make your anxiety worse?

Everyone loves the occasional sweet indulgence – most of us too much. The World Health Organization recommends that you limit sugar to no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake, which puts the average woman at six teaspoons and the average man at nine. Exceeding this is much easier than what you might think. In fact, a study showed that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar every day were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression in the next five years.

But how does this happen? When you eat too much sugar, your body will release insulin to absorb the excess glucose in order to stabilize your blood sugar levels. However, this is hard work for your body, and it will leave you feeling foggy, jittery, irritable, drained and nervous. In other words: more of the same, if you already have anxiety.

Therefore, if you suffer from anxiety, one of the worst things you can do is binge on sugar. It will leave you feeling tense, shaky and irritable. In fact, it may feel a lot like panic attacks.

Many people suggest quitting processed sugar cold turkey, which may lead to some serious side effects, such as fatigue, confusion, irritability and anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety already, it might not be a good idea to quit cold turkey.

How to Reduce Your Sugar Consumption

There are often sugars in foods that you may not realize. Here are a three tips to easily cut sugar consumption.

  • Drink more water! We no to avoid drinking sweetened beverages such as juice and soda, but did you know that milk and electrolyte drinks, such as Gatorade, contain significant sugar too?
  • Check your condiments. Ketchup, teriyaki sauce and salad dressings contain more sugar than you may realize. Consider switching these up for salsa, soy sauce and oil and vinegar with herbs.
  • Opt for dark chocolate. Not only is it incredible decadent, but it has less sugar than milk chocolate.

In addition, when you decide to cut back on sugar avoid simply replacing it with artificial substances such as sucralose, saccharin or aspartame. These ingredients have been linked to risks of weight gain, stroke, heart attacks, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

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