Sugar is a thief. It steals your nutrients, your energy, and your health. And it makes you anxious.
Here are just 3 of the many ways eating too many sweetened foods can upset your mental health:
It robs you of magnesium. It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize one molecule of sugar! Since magnesium is needed for relaxation, this puts your ability to calm yourself in jeopardy.
It upsets the balance of microbes in your gut. When pathogens outnumber probiotics, the nerve signals from the gut to the brain are ones of distress. Did you know that for every message the brain sends to the G.I. tract, the gut sends 6 signals back? And since pathogens feed on simple sugars, whereas probiotics eat complex carbs, it’s easy to get an overgrowth of harmful yeast or bacteria if you are loading up on sweets. These, in turn, send messages to your brain that something is not right.
It starts an adrenaline cycle. Not having a balanced plate and eating carb-heavy means your blood sugars are going to swing drastically up and down. When they drop, your brain becomes alarmed, for it must have constant fuel to direct your body’s activities. It recruits cortisol and adrenaline to increase blood sugars. These stress hormones increase your heart rate, quicken your breathing, and tighten your muscles. You become a walking candidate for an anxiety attack as soon as the next stressor comes along.
The solution to reducing anxiety starts with reducing the foods that spike an insuin release in your body.
Swap your refined carbs (pop, pasta, bread, chips, cookies, pastries, cake, tortillas, juices, condiments and sauces) for smart carbs (properly prepared whole grains and legumes, abundant vegetables, and whole fruits).
Second, watch food labels. Sugar is ubiquitous. It’s in so-called health foods like yogurt, protein bars, and even some flavored waters. Your intake of carbs in terms of grams should not be much higher than your intake of protein, so if an energy bar touting 8 grams of protein is 32 grams of carbohydrate, with 14 grams of sugar, it’s not a good choice. Learn to make foods from scratch. For example, spaghetti sauce can be quickly stirred together from tomato paste, bone broth, fresh garlic, and a few spices, avoiding the high fructose corn syrup often included in the canned version of this product.
Next, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of protein and healthy fat. Women should get a minimum of 50 grams of protein per day. Men need closer to 70 grams. Natural fats – everything from nuts and seeds to butter and coconut oil – help slow the absorption of carbohydrate into your blood stream, and give you a slow-burning fuel to maintain energy and stave off cravings throughout the day.
While sugar may give you a rush when your feel blue, in the long run you will be more optimistic and peaceful if you skip this sweet saboteur.