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« Is sugar bad for anxiety? by Rachel Green »

Written by Rachel Green. Your smart emotions coach. Helping people turn difficult emotions into positive outcomes. Director of The Emotional Intelligence Institute

Could sugar cause anxiety?

What you put into your gut and what happens in your gut can affect anxiety and increase the possibility of getting it. I have suspected for a while that the sugar in my diet can have an impact on my emotions. This study seems to indicate I have not been imagining it and that it is especially related to anxiety in teenagers.

Here is a summary about the research:

The consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive- and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress, according to new animal research scheduled for presentation at Neuroscience 2014, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

The research was conducted by Constance Harrell of Emory University in Atlanta working with Gretchen Neigh, PhD, assistant professor of physiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

Does too much fructose cause anxiety?

What is of interest to me here is that the sugar in question is fructose. Fructose is found in fruit. We have for years been told how good fruit is for us. It still is, but maybe fruit juice drinks aren't. Also fructose is added to other processed foods. And maybe we can eat too much fruit. I hate saying that as I am a fructophile!

Just one word of caution from me, this study has been done on rats, at this stage. Both adolescent and adult rats were given either a standard or a high-fructose diet.

After 10 weeks, the adolescent but not adult rats on the high-fructose diet had a different stress hormone response to an acute stressor, which was consistent with their depressed-like behavior. A genetic pathway in the brain that plays a key role in regulating the way the brain responds to stress was also altered.

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Dangers of sugar on anxiety and the adolescent brain

Well, it may have been done on rats but if this is any indication of the impact that too much sugar can have on anxiety, especially in our teens, it is important to consider it seriously. Just think how much fructose a typical adolescent may eat or drink.

Fructose, the researchers say:

Has been found to promote negative cardiovascular effects. It also stimulates neural pathways that affect how the brain responds to stress, which can have important behavioral effects, including the worsening of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Such effects are of particular concern during the teen years, which is a critical time for the development of the brain's stress response.

So this study is further evidence of the gut-body-mind-emotions connection. If your teenager has anxiety maybe it would help if you examined the impact that their sugar intake may be having on it. It could be impacting on their brain and how it reacts to stress. Teenagers have enough to cope with - eating less sugar in their diet may help.

Our emotions are not separate from our bodies they are part of it. Your food intake could affect your emotions and emotional intelligence.

body-mind-gut-emotion connection
body-mind-gut-emotion connection

Full report here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141118141852.htm

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NB: Rachel is not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. This article is for your information only based on her personal experiences and does not constitute individual advice. Everyone is different. It is not provided as an alternative to obtaining professional advice from an appropriately qualified practitioner. Please seek the help you need.