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Sugar and Mental Well-Being

 

The risks of a diet that is high in sugar are plenty and well-known; as the world becomes more and more health-conscious and an increasing number of studies are made analysing the effects of sugar-rich diets on the human body’s system, people have steadily become far more aware of the sugar content in their food. The health concerns brought on by a high-blood pressure are many: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity to name a few. These diseases and physical conditions are what many of us are striving to avoid when we make a conscious effort to cut back on sugary foods, along with the desire to be in general healthier physical condition.

But despite the findings of numerous studies and general agreement among experts in the field, the damaging effect such a diet can have on the mental condition of a person is lesser known to the public; symptoms that can be equally as concerning.

But it makes perfect sense that blood sugar levels can have effects on your mental health: the brain uses blood sugar, in the form of glucose, in order to gain energy to function. This glucose fuels all brain operation and physical activity, so a drop or a dramatic increase in this supply of fuel is likely to lead to harmful effects.

A large consumption of sugar in a diet has been linked with an increase in the intensity of a variety of mood disorder symptoms; including depression and anxiety, as well as a worsening of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

A person suffering from such conditions will find their symptoms harder to manage if they do not watch their levels of sugar intake and although such changes in diet alone cannot cure disorders such as anxiety and depression, it has been shown that an improved diet will help with energy levels and ease the severity of the symptoms.

Aside from this, high-sugar diets can cause fatigue and foggy thinking; independent of any mood disorder or mental condition somebody might have. Cognitive abilities, such as memory and the capacity to learn, have been shown to be notably effected by high-blood sugar levels.

On the upside, society as a whole continues to become more health conscious and trends show that on average less sugar is being consumed throughout our daily lives; although the issue still exists and it is important to continue to raise awareness on the matter – especially when the problem is far from being eradicated.

If we want to stay on top of our mental and physical well-being, we must pay special attention to our blood=sugar levels. And its not as simple as avoiding the obvious culprits, such as sweets, cakes and other sugary foods. Savoury foods can have hidden sugars in them too. Sugar can be legally listed under a number of different names in the ingredients of seemingly healthier food options, due to slight variations in its molecular structure. Some of these names to watch out for include dextrose, maltose and galactose.

While no one is saying to avoid ingesting sugar all together – a feat which would prove near impossible – taking some steps towards cutting down and monitoring sugar intake such as swapping processed foods, including ‘white grains’ (white rice and bread), for unprocessed foods such as brown rice, brown bread and wholemeal, will dramatically improve your physical and mental well-being.

February 12, 2017
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The Actingworks team is composed of a group of educators coming from a range of different and fascinating backgrounds, including acting, dance, music, teaching, fitness, visual arts and tour-guiding.

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