There has been a big push against sugar, as numerous studies have linked a high intake of sugar to weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems. The latest findings suggest that sugar intake can also take a toll on your mood. The study found that although high-sugary foods like cake may make you happy in the moment, over time, sugar intake can cause your mood to take a nose dive.
The World Health Organization recommends that people reduce their intake of sugar to below five percent of their total energy intake. Unfortunately, Americans consume triple the amount of recommended sugar and it comes from a variety of sources.
Previous studies explored a possible link between sugar intake and depression and found that the higher the sugar
intake, the higher the likelihood of depression developing. In an alternative Spanish study, participants that had high levels of sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of developing depression compared to those who consumed the least amount of baked goods. An American study found that consuming artificially sweetened beverages could increase the risk of depression as well.
Although there have been numerous studies that have uncovered a link between sugar and depression, it hasn’t been clear why or how the link exists. Unfortunately, this link isn’t well understood, but there are some theories. For starters, changes may occur as a result of the sweet taste and the sugar itself. This was suggested as a result of a study conducted on rats. Rats that were fed a high fat and high sugar diet had lower levels of a protein known as BDNF, which influences growth and development of nerve cells in the brain. BDNF is believed to play a role in depression and anxiety.
Another possible link is inflammation, and it is known that a high sugar diet is linked to greater inflammation.
There is already some preliminary research that links inflammation to mood disorders.
For the most recent study, the researchers used sugar intake from sweet foods and beverages to predict new and recurring mood disorders among a group of British civil servants. The researchers further investigated whether or not already having a mood disorder would make a person more inclined to opt for sugary foods.
They found that men without a mood disorder who consumed over 67 grams of sugar were 23 percent more likely to suffer from a mood disorder over the course of five years — this was in comparison to those who consumed less than 40 grams of sugar. This effect was independent of other factors that could contribute to a mood disorder.
The researchers also found that participants did not change their sugar intake even after the onset of the mood disorder.
Although the study is just another link between sugar intake and mood disorders, there are still many questions that need to be answered. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep your sugar intake to a minimum.
Related: Foods for your mood