Saturday, April 21, 2012

More on sugar badness

There is a direct link between mood and blood sugar balance. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose and your brain runs on glucose. The more uneven your blood sugar supply the more uneven your mood. In fact, our experience at the Brain Bio Centre is that poor blood sugar balance is often the single-biggest factor in mood disorders amongst the people that seek our advice. 
Eating lots of sugar is going to give you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood; symptoms that this is going on include fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, excessive sweating (especially at night), poor concentration and forgetfulness, excessive thirst, depression and crying spells, digestive disturbances and blurred vision. Since the brain depends on an even supply of glucose it is no surprise to find that sugar has been implicated in aggressive behaviour, anxiety, and depression,  and fatigue . 
Lots of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods,) is also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in the way of nutrients but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins; turning each teaspoon of sugar into energy needs B vitamins. In fact, a study of 3,456 middle-aged civil servants, published in British Journal of Psychiatry found that those who had a diet which contained a lot of processed foods had a 58% increased risk for depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods had a 26% reduced risk for depression. 
Sugar also diverts the supply of another nutrient involved in mood – chromium. This mineral is vital for keeping your blood sugar level stable because insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, can’t work properly without it. There is more on chromium below.
The best way to keep your blood sugar level even is to eat what is called a low Glycemic Load (GL) diet and avoid, as much as you can, refined sugar and refined foods, eating instead whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and regular meals. The book, the Holford Low GL Diet Bible, explains exactly how to do this so this is a great resource if you really want to improve your blood sugar balance. Caffeine also has a direct effect on your blood sugar and your mood and is best kept to a minimum, as is alcohol. 
Where’s the evidence? Click here for a list of scientific studies on sugar, caffeine and depression.

And here is a list of 147 reasons to give up sugar.


Eve said...

Good on you Hilary!

There's a book called Sweet Poison by David Gillespie that you might like to read. I haven't read it myself but already accept the sugar=really bad evidence.

He has a website too:

Eve said...

You probably don't need to bother with the book I mentioned before, it seems Nancy Appleton is the expert!

Thanks again Hilary

Jeff said...

That there is an association between mood disorders and junk food is no surprise; in non-melancholic depression people consume more energy dense foods, particularly sugar, since they cause a mild release of endogenous opioids; which, in the short term, slightly ameliorates feelings of depression. Though large amounts of sugar are certainly bad for you, I think this better explains the relationship than "sugar causes depression." Further, B-vitamins are not mood enhancing unless you have a serious deficiency; the only exception, perhaps, is folate, which has been shown to increase the effectiveness of SSRIs in at least some studies. The only thing you can really do, for which there is at least some evidence, to relieve depression without psychiatric help is vigorous exercise and avoiding overlong solitude.

One last thing, the simplistic picture of insulin spikes causing insulin resistance simply isn't true. Insulin resistance is regulated by a whole series of hormones and neuropeptides which interact with each other in complex and nonobvious ways.

Steve T. said...

Ahhh, this is all just posing. Hillary is still going out for gelato. Says so right at the top of her blog.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Yep. One ounce cup a month.