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Guest Post: Sugar and Depression

Posted Dec 30 2008 10:33am

Sugar And Depression? Is There A Link?

Guest Post: Merri Ellen Giesbrecht

There is a controversy over sugar and depression. Numerous people seem to report a drastic change in their mood after eating foods high in sugar. As a result, sugar has a reputation as an evil food that causes diabetes, obesity, mood swings and other bad health effects. But, recently there was a study released that said the link between sugar and depression is a myth.

What is the truth?

How Did This Controversial Issue Begin In The First Place?

Sugar Blues (William Dufty, Grand Central Publishing, 1975) was probably the first popular culture book that gives insight into the often overlooked link between diet and depression, and how a small dietary change, eliminating refined sugar, can make a huge difference in how good one is able to feel physically and mentally. The author even suggested that cutting out refined sugar from the diet of those institutionalized for mental illness could be an effective treatment for some.

But Is There Truly A Link Between Sugar And Depression?

In 1996, Duke University researchers said that is all a myth. It’s the Omega 6 fat ? found with foods high in sugar — that is the bad guy, said Richard Surwit, research director of the Stedman Nutrition Center at Duke. Sugar got its unsavory reputation, he said, from associating with fat. 1. That seems to be the key. Sugar and depression are linked but via fat.

Simply, There’s A Third Piece To The Topic Of Sugar And Depression: Foods High In Simple Sugars Are Usually Found With High Levels Of Bad Fats That Affect Mental Health.

There’s good fat and bad fat. Omega 3 is good fat while an overabundance of Omega 6 oil is bad. The key is that omega-6 fatty acids, found in everything from margarine and ice cream to snack foods such as potato chips, have replaced the healthy omega-3s. As a result, junk food addicts damage their levels of happy brain chemicals - serotonin and dopamine. (Low serotonin is linked to depression, the risk of suicide, and violent and impulsive behaviors. Dopamine is crucial to decision-making.) 2. You won?t get depressed from eating sugar in moderation. But, you will get depressed when your diet is heavy on simple sugars and low on complex carbs and protein. Depression, anxiety, or memory problems are caused by a deficiency in vitamins and minerals most commonly, one of the B complex vitamins. Deficiencies of thiamine (vitamin B1), niacin, pyridoxine (B6), or cobalamin (B12) sometimes produce mental or emotional problems, including depression. 3.

What’s The Proof On Fat, Sugar And Depression?

A study revealed that unhealthy junk food is causing severe disruptions in serotonin levels, producing depression, anger, violence and suicidal behaviors. These problems can even by transmitted by a mother to her developing fetus. When children and youth eat junk food, the brain may be permanently altered. Comparing the increase in murder rates to the increased rate of unhealthy oils in the diets of 38 industrialized countries, we find a perfect match. 4.

Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found back in 1997 that treating clinical depression can help diabetic patients better control their blood sugar levels. 5.

Researchers have discovered a major link between fructose and obesity. Fructose (a kind of sugar) causes a spike in uric acid levels, which, according to researchers at the University of Florida, disrupts insulin levels and makes you hungrier than you actually should be. The widespread use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) since the 1980s, with even higher percentages of fructose than sugar, have simply compounded the problem. 6.

So, What Should You Eat To Beat Depression?

Consuming fruits and vegetables (complex carbohydrates) raises the level of trytophan in your brain that triggers an increase of serotonin which has a calming effect. High protein foods, promote the production of dopamine and norepineprine, which promote alertness. You should also drink plenty of water to dilute uric acid. 7

Take care to avoid foods high in sugar which are usually also high in Omega 6 fats. Instead eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies which calm you and eat a diet rich in protein which makes you more alert.

There is hope! You are worth it!

Merri Ellen

P.S. Did you know that your depression could be caused by a food allergy similar to sugar addiction?Learn more about food allergies and depression to find hope!

About the Author: From suicidal to impacting the lives of others, Merri Ellen Giesbrecht shares hope for those suffering from depression. When antidepressants made her life worse, she began to research the medical journals to find the truth. What she found would not only change her life but also thousands of others around the world through her website:

  1. Sun Herald -C1 HEALTH & STYLE - March 19, 1996
  2. Dr. Hibbiln, National Institutes of Health, 2001
  3. Ronald Pies, M.D. WebMD, 1997
  4. Hibbeln JR: Seafood consumption and homicide mortality. World Rev Nutr Diet 85:41? 46
  5. Psychosomatic Medicine, May 22, 1997
  6. Wang G. & Volkow N., Scientist Find Link Between Dopamine and Obesity, Brookhaven National Laboratory,, 24 Sep 07
  7. Kris-Etherton P, Eckel RH, Howard BV, St. Jeor S, Bazzare TL. AHA Science Advisory: Lyon Diet Heart Study. Benefits of a Mediterranean-style Dietary Pattern on Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation 2001;103:1823

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