It’s no secret that sugar is bad news for your body. After all, moderating the sweet stuff is one of our 40 Tips That Double Weight Loss, and too much of it has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But have you ever considered its effect on your mind?
Maybe it’s time you do. University College London researchers recently found that excess sugar could possibly be causing mental disorders. In fact, their study showed that men in the top third of sugar consumption were 23 percent more likely to experience depression and anxiety over five years compared to those in the bottom third.
What That Means For You
If you’re thinking there’s no way you rank in the top third with those men, think again. They consumed more than 67 grams of sugar a day, a number that can easily be reached by someone drinking a 16-ounce Coke and scarfing down a Snickers bar. And that number’s even easier to reach when you consider all of the sweet stuff that’s hiding in processed foods, from ‘healthy’ smoothies to granola bars to loaves of bread—just some of the “health” foods worse than a donut.
In fact, even though the American Heart Association recommends capping your sugar at 36 grams a day, the average American reached 94, according to the USDA. So if you aren’t paying close attention to the sugar content in your favorite foods, odds are good that you’re consuming way too much.
The good news is, the correlation between sugar and depression doesn’t necessarily equal causation here. But the bad news? The study found that people with mood disorders weren’t more likely to consume sugar, which implied that the high levels were indeed what caused the connection. This held true even when general health and socioeconomic status were controlled for. But oddly enough, the same results didn’t show up with women over their 22 years of research. (That doesn’t mean ladies should breathe easy, though. Sugar’s negative effects on the body are present in both sexes).
The Bottom Line
Mood disorders are obviously very complicated, and no one’s saying sugar is the only culprit. That being said, it could be an important factor at play. “There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel's back,” Anika Knuppel, the paper’s lead author, said in a University College London news article. Until more research is conducted, you should start moderating your intake with these 30 Easy Ways To Stop Eating So Much Sugar—not just for your body’s sake, but for your mind’s as well.