The average Briton consumes 238 teaspoons of sugar each week. This is almost a KILOGRAM (2 pounds) of sugar and it is often consumed without us knowing it. Food companies put added sugar in pretty much everything and now research shows sugar can worsen the symptoms related to depression and anxiety.
Anxiety and depression is rising among teenagers, with girls suffering most according to a recent study published in the in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.
The studies leader, Dr William Bor from the University of Queensland, told the Daily Mail Australia that a combination of cultural, schooling and economic factors are most likely to be leading to the growing problem, but could there be another reason? Could a teenager’s diet be to blame?
According to separate research by Emory University in Atlanta, US, too much sugar doesn’t just lead to weight gain, but also depression, anxiety and stress.
Sugar makes depression and anxiety worse
Eating a diet high in fructose as a teenager makes depression and anxiety worse, the scientists found. It also alters how the brain responds to stress, they said.
Fructose is a sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables but is also added to processed foods and drinks – from biscuits to ice cream. I suspect it is the highly processed, added sugar that is the problem.
Robert Lustig, professor of paediatric endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, author of Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar, numerous scientific and press articles, and presenter of “Sugar: the Bitter Truth”, a YouTube clip viewed more than 3,300,000 times explains that instead of helping to sate us, some scientists believe that fructose fools our brains into thinking we are not full, so we overeat.
Moreover, excess fructose cannot be converted into energy by the mitochondria inside our cells (which perform this function). “Instead,” he explains, “they turn excess fructose into liver fat. That starts a cascade of insulin resistance (insulin promotes sugar uptake from blood) which leads to chronic metabolic disease, including diabetes and heart disease.”
Not all sugar is the same
Fructose is “fruit sugar”, so do we stop eating fruit? Well let us have a little common sense first. Fructose is an integral part of fruit (such as apples and pears) and I suspect mother nature knew what she was doing when she put it there. We use these natural sugars as a source of fuel for our bodies and I believe we evolved to seek out the foods that contain them.
The “cocaine” hiding in your kitchen
The problem comes when we start messing with nature. Scientists have extracted fructose and intensified it to produce a highly processed, almost pharmaceutical, sweetness and then the food industry takes these sweeteners, especially high fructose corn syrup (often labelled as glucose-fructose syrup here in the UK), and put them in EVERYTHING.
This process is comparable to how coca leaf is refined into cocaine and just as cocaine has been shown to increase depression, anxiety and panic attacks evidence now suggests refined sugar does the same.
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