Reported by Times Now News, along with reduced light in winter and changes in sleep patterns accordingly, high sugar consumption can lead to risk factors that affect mental health. (Also read: 10 Inspirations to Create a Fun Vacation at Home)
“For many people, reduced exposure to sunlight during winter will throw off circadian rhythms, disrupt healthy sleep and propel five to 10% of the population into full episodes of clinical depression,” said study co-author Stephen Ilardi, who is also a clinical psychology professor. University of Kansas.
The study, published in the journal Medical Hypothesis, notes that this winter-onset depressive symptom may encourage people to consume more sweets.
“One of the common characteristics of depression that occurs in wintertime is sugar cravings. So, we have up to 30% of the population suffering from at least some winter-induced depression symptoms, causing them to crave carbohydrates and now they are constantly exposed to sweets on holiday,” “said Ilardi.
According to the researchers, avoiding added dietary sugar may be very challenging. The reason is, on the other hand, sugar provides a mood boost and makes some people with depression a temporary emotional boost.
“Sugar has an immediate mood-enhancing effect, but in high doses it can also increase paradoxical long-term consequences and make moods worse, reduce well-being, increase inflammation and lead to weight gain,” said the KU researcher.
He adds that when depressed, the diet should be optimized to provide all the nutrients the brain needs, and mostly avoid these potential toxins. The study also revealed that inflammation is the most important physiological effect of dietary sugar related to mental health and depressive disorders. (Also read: BTS Write Postcards to ARMY Indicate Possible Subunits)
“A large number of people with depression have high levels of systemic inflammation. We also know that the inflammatory hormone can directly push the brain into a state of major depression. So, the inflamed brain is usually the stressed brain. And added sugar has a proinflammatory effect on the body and brain. “he added.
The researchers also identified the impact of sugar on the human gut-living bacterial community, or microbiome, as a potential contributor to depression. “Our bodies host more than 10 trillion microbes and many of them know how to hack the brain,” he said.
“Many of those parasitic microbes are grown with added sugars, and they can produce chemicals that drive the brain into states of anxiety, stress, and depression. They also experience inflammation,” he continued.
The study recommends a minimally processed diet, rich in plant foods and omega-3 fatty acids, for optimal psychological benefits. Ilardi explains that this diet is recommended not only during holidays, but throughout the year.