Everyone has been there. After a bad breakup or even just a bad day at work, you go for the ice cream and the chocolate. But is this really a good idea?
Sugary treats like ice cream might make you feel a little better for a short time, but are they good for your emotional health long-term? Keep reading to learn all about sugar and mental health and why it might not be the best idea.
Sugar and Your Body
When most of us think of sugar, we think of sucrose. This is the white, grainy kind of sugar you’d find at the grocery store. But there are many types of sugars, and some are necessary for us to live.
Sucrose consists of two other simple sugars: glucose and fructose. You’ve probably heard of high-fructose corn syrup, but fructose is just the sugar we naturally find in fruits.
Glucose is the main source of energy for our bodies, so everyone needs some of it to survive. However, too much glucose can be a bad thing.
Too much glucose, especially all at once releases neurotransmitters like serotonin in the brain. This is why eating sugar makes you feel good. Serotonin is responsible for well-being and happiness.
But too much serotonin can lead to problems. Over time, we start to develop a tolerance to serotonin. This means it takes more and more of it to get to the same level of happiness.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have any sugar, but it’s important not to overdo it. And if you do eat a lot one night, it’s important to wait a while to let your body get rid of its tolerance.
Sugar and Mental Health
One of the biggest negative effects of sugar is its effect on your mental health. Sugar’s mental health effects have been studied in detail for the last few decades.
So, is sugar bad for depression? Is sugar bad for anxiety? Recent studies show there may be a connection between eating lots of sugar and these issues.
The mechanism is clear. Just like with addiction, the body develops a tolerance to serotonin from eating too much sugar.
Then, when you do things that activate normal levels of serotonin, they no longer have as much of an effect. The result is that you become less happy over time.
In addition to sucrose, you also have to watch out for artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, and stevia knock-offs. If you’re interested in learning about why you should avoid these, you can learn more here.
How Much Is Right for You?
Now that you know the effects of sugar on the brain, as well as the connection between sugar and mental health, feel free to decide for yourself how much you want to consume.
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