How Sugar Increases Anxiety

Do you feel anxious or depressed? What is the first thing you do? Some people eat something sweet as comfort food. It won’t help and can make it worse. Sugar increases anxiety and depression. Sugar is known to damage the body. It also affects mental health. Many studies show that people with anxiety or depression consume high amounts of sugar, but which came first? Did the depression or anxiety lead to consuming sugar, or was sugar the culprit that led to the mental health issue? A study has now shown it was sugar that caused the depression by using a math model that eliminated reverse causation. The study showed high sugar consumption came before the mental health issue.

It’s hard to avoid consuming sugar.

If you’re an avid label reader, you’ve probably noticed a high amount of unexpected sugar in products. Whether you’re topping your healthy salad with your favorite dressing or putting ketchup on your not-so-healthy fries, you’re increasing your sugar intake. While naturally occurring sugar in fruits and vegetables normally doesn’t affect your mood, food with added sugar does because it lacks the fiber that slows absorption. Consider how eating something composed only of simple carbs, including sugar, can affect your physical and mental health.

A sugar rush occurs when you down a donut or piece of cake.

Your sugar spikes, you’re at peak energy, and then it drops as suddenly as it rose. When your blood sugar drops suddenly, the body sends out epinephrine, a stress hormone that tells the liver to create more glucose. It can cause adrenaline to give you sweaty palms and a racing heart since your blood sugar is too low. Cortisol then enters the picture. The combination of the fight-or-flight hormones epinephrine and cortisol lead to anxiety.

Your moods are affected by your gut microbiome and inflammation.

The gut-brain connection can affect your mood and links a healthy gut microbiome to a healthy mental state. A new field of psychiatry, nutritional psychiatry, considers the links between a healthy gut and how an imbalance of microbes affects the brain. The vagus nerve gives the brain and the gut two-way communication. A recent study showed people with a specific type of imbalance in their microbiome suffered from an anxiety disorder. High sugar amounts disrupt a healthy balance of microbes.

  • Eating sugar or products with added sugar causes inflammation. Many studies have shown a link between inflammation and anxiety or depression.
  • You might think that cookies can help you cope with problems you face, but they could be doing the opposite. It helps suppress hypothalamic pituitary adrenal—HPA—in the brain, controlling the response to stress, making you more reliant on sugar to deal with stress.
  • Cutting out sugar cold turkey can lead to a panic attack resembling withdrawal from other addictive substances. If you have problems with anxiety, withdraw from sugar slowly to avoid making it worse.
  • Sugar affects other parts of the brain. It can affect memory and cognitive functioning, even without weight gain. One study showed it also negatively affected appetite control.

For more information, contact us today at Targeted Nutrition Technologies