We all know that we must watch our sugar intake for our better physical health, but there’s some scientific evidence emerging that it plays a key role in ensuring an important role with regard to our mental health as well.
A recent study from the University of Kansas titled “The Depressogenic Potential of Added Dietary Sugars” establishes a link between more sugar consumption and depression. It reports that “high-dose sugar intake can perturb numerous metabolic, inflammatory, and neurobiological processes”, and “many such effects are of particular relevance to the onset and maintenance of depressive illness.” In other words, eating foods with high levels of added sugars can worsen symptoms of depression and moodiness.
As we come across holiday parties and family gatherings this season, it’s best for us to practice moderation when it comes to having those tempting sweet treats, otherwise, we would be risking our mental health as well.
Many people experience SAD (seasonal affective disorder) during the holiday season and according to Stephen Ilardi, a Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University, craving sugar is a common characteristic of winter-onset depression. The researchers believe that declining moods can cause people to reach out for more sugary treats in order to feel better as they help lift their moods. However, it only gives a temporary spike of pleasure. As Ilardi shares, “They [Sugary treats] have an immediate mood-elevating effect, but in high doses they can also have a paradoxical, pernicious longer-term consequence of making mood worse.”
Too many sweets can lead to starting a vicious negative cycle, further exacerbating the negative effects of holiday depression and affecting our overall health. And that’s why, investigators advise practicing moderation and not going overboard.
Ilardi also adds, “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to predicting exactly how any person’s body will react to any given food at any given dose.”
If you ask my personal opinion, I think it’s best for us if we stick to a plant-based diet during the holidays and keep an eye on our consumption of sweets and desserts, including all the calorie-rich beverages that are popular during this time (following the one day a week rule where you can indulge in your favorite treats in moderation).
Along with that, it makes sense to practice mindfulness and take note of our feelings during the holiday season. If you experiencing a failing mood, evaluate your sugar intake. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The bottom line is that if we want to enjoy a healthier and happier holiday season, it’s best to distance ourselves from the trap of instant gratification, and practice moderation so that we can stave off the negative effects of desserts and other high-carb snacks on our mental health.