Sugar and Depression…They’re Linked and Now You Can Calculate Your Intake to Gauge your Risk

I know this makes me sound like a super-geek, but I often read old medical journals because I think that looking back can help us to see forward.

I came across a perfect example of this a few days ago when I read an article from 1940 that described how administering an insulin injection to a healthy person can result in a “mood of anxious depression.”

The idea that insulin could affect one’s mood immediately made me think of a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, they found that postmenopausal women consuming 80 grams of added sugars per day were significantly more likely to suffer from depression, compared to women consuming only 18 grams per day.

Lo and behold, they attributed these depressive symptoms to the spike in insulin that results from excessive sugar intakes. The way I see it, the two articles mirror each other and are both pointing to the fact that an insulin spike produces a drastic decline in blood sugar, which then causes the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause feelings of anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, this means there’s another reason to watch your sugar intake. Because sugar may not only contribute to excess weight gain, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sugar could also have a detrimental effect on the state of our minds.

DSCF2065

So what does this mean for YOU?

Well…what we learn from this study is that as little as 80 grams of added sugars could increase risk for depression in certain populations. But what does 80 grams look like? And how do you know if your intake is in that ball park?

Until recently, it was nearly impossible for the average person to calculate their added sugar intake. However, with the release of “One Sweet App”, calculating your free sugar intake (note: free sugar is a slightly more encompassing designation than added sugars) is easier than ever.

iphone-app

By entering your daily food choices, the app allows you to calculate your intake and assess your levels according to current recommendations. It’s easy, it’s free, and it can be downloaded here: http://sugarcoateddoc.com/the-app/

 

Scientific Note:

The AJCN study looked beyond sugar and also showed that high-glycemic index carbs in general are associated with depression. Hence, not only sugar, but also a diet high in white bread, white rice etc. could increase risk for depression.

Advertisements

RFF#113 – Acid decreases postprandial glycemia

Or in laymen’s terms, consuming an acidic food/ingredient alongside carbohydrates will decrease the size of the resulting blood sugar spike in your bloodstream.

This is part of the reason why sourdough bread (which contains lactic acid, produced by the lactobacillus bacteria that are involved in the fermentation of sourdough bread) has a lower glycemic index, compared to regular bread.

The mechanism for how acid decreases blood sugar is uncertain. Some research has suggested that acid delays gastric emptying (the release of food from your stomach), while other studies have postulated that it may inactivate the amylase enzyme that breaks down carbohydrate.

Either way, this random food fact gives insight into the unique power that foods have when consumed in combination. So don’t hesitate to squeeze some lemon on those potatoes, it could do you some good!

I learned about this fact from:

Liljeberg HG and Björck IM. Delayed gastric emptying rate as a potential mechanism for lowered glycemia after eating sourdough bread: studies in humans and rats using test products with added organic acids or an organic salt. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Dec;64(6):886-93.