In the recent times, there has been an increasing worry regarding the detrimental impact of sugar, on mental well being. Regular intake of sugars and refined carbohydrates has been associated with health concerns such as decreased cognitive abilities, feelings of depression, anxiety and even conditions like dementia.
The Relationship Between Sugar and the Brains Reward System:
The brains reward system plays a role in processing experiences and reinforcing behaviours that lead to those experiences. When we consume sugar, it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that signals pleasure and rewards. This rush of dopamine can make it challenging to resist consuming sugar creating a cycle of craving and consumption.
What is the Role of Sugars in Inflammation?
Long term consumption of sugar can contribute to inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Inflammation has been linked to health issues such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. Chronic inflammation in the tract can result in “Leaky Gut syndrome,” which causes digestive problems and interferes with nutrient absorption.
What is the Role Impact of Sugars on Cognitive Function?
Research indicates that excessive sugar intake can impair function affecting memory retention, attention span and learning abilities. These effects may be attributed to how sugar affects both the structure and functioning of the brain.
Here are some recommendations, from the American Heart Association regarding sugar intake; Women should aim for no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day while men should limit themselves to 9 teaspoons (37.5 grams) per day. However it’s common for people to consume more than these recommended amounts.
Reducing sugar intake is crucial for both mental well being though it can be a task. Here are a few tips to help you cut down on sugar consumption;
Take the time to read food labels carefully and opt for products with levels of added sugars.
Limit your consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks and desserts.
Make changes to your diet to avoid experiencing cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
Find alternatives that can satisfy your tooth, such as fruits, vegetables or snacks that are naturally sweetened.
In addition to reducing sugar intake, NAMI suggests strategies for managing health:
- Engage in regular physical activity as exercise releases endorphins that have mood boosting effects.
- Maintain a healthy diet that provides the necessary nutrients for proper brain function.
- Ensure you get sleep as it plays a role, in maintaining mental well being.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress like practicing yoga or meditation.
Remember that taking care of both your physical and mental health is essential. If you’re dealing with health challenges it’s important to reach out to a professional such, as a therapist or psychiatrist for assistance.
Taking steps to reduce your sugar consumption can have effects, on your health and well being which includes benefiting your mental health as well.