Aside from being a known diabetes risk, high glycemic index foods have additional side effects. The popular criticisms against sugar center on weight gain and diabetes.
But there’s new research to indicate that sugar can have adverse effects on our mental health, too.
Foods with high glycemic index scores linked with depression in postmenopausal women
Researchers from Columbia University examined the effects of food on mood, in particular carbohydrates and added sugar. Researchers examined data from nearly 70,000 postmenopausal women from 1994 and 1998.
The research team examined both the quality and quantity of carbohydrates and added sugar in the women’s diets. They further applied a glycemic index (GI) score – the ability for a carbohydrate to raise sugar levels between zero and 100 – to each food item.
What the researchers uncovered was that among women who consumed foods that had a high GI score, there was a link to a higher risk of developing depression. On the other hand, women who consumed more dairy, vegetables, fruits and fiber had a lower risk of developing depression.
In the group of women who did not report depression at the beginning of the study, by their check-up in 1998, if they consumed a high GI and added sugar diet, they were more likely to report depression later on.
Researchers added that foods such as white bread, soda and boxed cereal could increase depression symptoms. These foods have the potential to lower blood sugar, which leads to symptoms of depression like anxiety.
Researchers feel future studies need to be conducted, especially ones that highlight diets of low GI foods to see if they would improve depression and mood. But for now, the overall takeaway is to avoid added sugars as much as possible – for diabetes prevention and for improved mental health.
How postmenopausal women can reduce the risk of depression
Mental health issues are often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed among the elderly population. For this reason, it is important to practice habits that can boost mental well-being, especially if you are a senior. Here are some tips to boost mental health:
4 tips to boost mental health and avoiding depression
- Stay connected – living in isolation has been shown to worsen mental health. Joining a community event, church group, chatting and meeting with friends are good ways to promote mental health.
- Eat well – as the study suggests, avoid added sugars for improved mental health.
- Stay active – exercise has been shown to boost mental health.
- Challenge yourself – either play mind-boosting games, such as crosswords, or take up a class.
By following these tips you can improve your mental health as well as avoid depression. If you have concerns that you may be developing depression, speak to your doctor right away; the earlier treatment can begin, the higher the chance of success is for recovery.
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