Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sugar and mental health: A toxic combination.

Sugar and mental health: A toxic combination.

When sugar cravings set in, the last thing we might think of is our long-term mental health. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that we should.

We've all been there. After a stressful day, when our mood is low, it is easy to reach for a tub of ice cream or similar sugary treat. But evidence of the link between sugar and mental health is mounting - and it's not just sweets that rack up our daily sugar intake.

Last week, Medical News Todayreported on a study published in the journal Scientific Reports that identified a greater risk of depression among men who consumed significant amounts of sugar in their diet.

One might argue that feeling depressed may lead to increased sugar consumption, rather than the other way around. However, what was really interesting about this study was that the researchers, from University College London Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health in the United Kingdom, used a mathematical model to exclude exactly that: a phenomenon they called reverse causation.

Using data from the Whitehall II study - a large group of civil servants in the U.K. - they showed that sugar consumption came before depression, rather than being a consequence of it.

So while there are an increasing number of studies looking at the implications of diet on mental health, it is difficult to study the exact causes and mechanisms that link the two.

What is the evidence? And how can sugar, such a simple molecule, wreak such havoc in our brains?

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Published Sat 5 Aug 2017,Medical News
By Yella Hewings-Martin, PhD

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