How sugar affects your mind

It is obvious that the consumption of sugar is absolutely massive everywhere in the western world. Since returning to the UK though, we did notice that it seems to be even worse here than elsewhere in Europe. Everyone eats so much sugar, all the time, from breakfast cereals to ready made meals, everything packed with sugar. Cakes and biscuits every day, chocolate bars, supermarket bread, salad dressings, yoghurts, everything. And not just sugar, but all other sweet stuff,  all kinds of syrups, glucose, fructose, dextrose…

You also see the affects of sugar everywhere. Irritable, out-of-control children, moody and upset adults, tired and low teenagers. This is actually what my teenage children noticed soon after starting in their new school in the UK. So many people seemed so low and dark. It must be the way they eat, my kids thought, thinking about the packed lunches they’d seen. And they are absolutely right because there is actually quite a lot of evidence already that high levels of sugar consumption, amongst many other health problems that it causes, can also have a very negative effect on brain health — from cognitive function to psychological wellbeing.

Sugar creates a vicious cycle of intense cravings.

Sugar is extremely addictive.  Just like with other addictions, this is of course not the case with everyone, but for most of us, sugar is addictive. You only have to follow ketogenic diet for a few days and most of the cravings are gone. And you don’t feel hungry. It is almost impossible to stick to the meal plan when following a diet full of carbohydrates and low in fat, because of the constant hunger and cravings. There is also evidence that excessive sugar intake causes other dependencies too.

To beat sugar addiction (or any addiction), try following ketogenic diet. Only eat three times a day, no snacking! Avoid ready-made meals as they very often contain sugar. Eat real food and plenty of natural fat. Enjoy occasional sugar free, home made desserts. Avoid everything sweet, including artificial sweeteners. Not only are they very harmful for your health, but usually keeps up the cravings. Make sure you get enough vitamin D, magnesium and omega 3 fatty acids. Avoid alcohol because alcohol often increases sugar cravings. This is because alcohol lowers blood sugar. Sleep well. We often crave sweet foods when tired.

Sugar impairs memory and learning skills.

A 2012 study conducted by researchers at UCLA, found that a diet high in fructose hinders learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain. The researchers found that rats who over-consumed fructose had damaged synaptic activity in the brain, meaning that communication among brain cells was impaired. Heavy sugar intake also caused the rats to develop a resistance to insulin. High-sugar diet harms the brain as well as the body.

Sugar may cause or contribute to depression and anxiety.

Sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar levels can cause you to experience symptoms like irritability, mood swings, brain fog and fatigue. That’s because eating a sugar causes blood sugar levels to spike upon consumption and then plummet. When your blood sugar inevitably dips back down, you may find yourself feeling very anxious, moody or even depressed.

It is clear that stress contributes to development of depression, but it has actually been found that sugar and starchy food also cause depression.  Depression can be a part of the metabolic problem caused by sugar. Chronically high blood sugar levels have been linked to inflammation in the brain and as some research has suggested, neuroinflammation may be one possible cause of depression. Teenagers may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of sugar on mood. What happens in the body, happens in the mind too. Another reason for depression is gluten. Deficiency in some micronutrients such as vitamin D and C, omega 3 fatty acids, and zinc has also been found to cause depression. I feel that nutrition should be understood much better before treating depression with potentially very harmful antidepressants. Ketogenic diet has been found to have very positive effects on mind and help in at least schizophrenia, anxiety,  depression, autism, ADHD and Alzheimers.

Here is a very interesting video about psychological medication to whoever is interested in the subject.

 

Sugar is also a risk factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

Dementia is not a part of normal ageing.  but caused by wrong diet. Dementia has been referred to as the diabetes of the brain. Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome cause dementia. In prevention of dementia it is important to include enough animal fats in your diet as several studies have found a link between low cholesterol and dementia. You also need to make sure you have enough folate, vitamin B12 and omega 3, so apart from meat, also eat organ meat such as liver and oily fish. But in addition to this, it is important to avoid sugar and excess carbohydrates. Diabetes increases the risk of dementia at least 2-5 times, so insulin resistance is harmful

More about dementia later.

 

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Published by goodlifeandfood

Warm welcome to my blog. I’m Hanna, a nurse and also very passioned about healthy nutritious food and how it affects our overall health and wellbeing, both physical and mental. Eating right is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy. Not just cutting down sugar, grains and excess carbohydrates, but also choosing nutritious and good quality foods, such as good vegetables, berries, herbs and spices, is extremely important. I try not to forget stress management and healthy exercise either.

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