Mood and Food: Sugar

Mood and Food: Sugar

There are times when nothing can give you a more effective pick-me-up than something fast and sweet, but is there any science behind our love of candy and how it can effect our mood? Sugar's long been a staple in the human diet, dating back to our hunt for fruits and berries that could give us the energy we needed for long voyages. We've used sugar for breads, early grain alcohols, and for the many sauces we use to compliment our meals. We've harvested it from furious bees, and long fields of cane, but does it effect us in ways we're not aware of? 

Too Much of a Good Thing 

If you were a child who was allowed to enjoy sugary snacks and sodas, or if you're a parent whose had to deal with your child's sugar rush, then you're already familiar with the concept; sugar gives you energy. When our blood sugar is high, we feel energetic, sometimes anxious, and it can even be an addictive experience, particularly for children who may be sensitive to chemical interactions in the brain.

There's always the matter of the crash, however; the body produces too much insulin, which leads to a sharp drop in blood sugar. That leads to fatigue, irritability, and a host of other issues that can effect your mood negatively. In other words, while a little dose of sugar can give you a quick boost, too much sugar will have the opposite effect given time.

It shouldn't be a surprise that scientific studies have linked sugar to depressed mood, either. While a cupcake isn't going to ruin your mood for the day, frequent sugar eaters experience that sugar rush, and crash, more frequently. The resulting fatigue can lead to chronic days of feeling like you're not at your best.

An Easy Balance 

The best way to avoid these peaks and valleys is to balance your sugar consumption throughout the day. As an adult, that means simple steps, such as:

  • Avoid putting too much sugar in your coffee. Some sugar replacements can still cause that dreaded insulin spike. Combining the sugar rush with caffeine creates higher peaks, and lower valleys.
  • Get your sugar naturally, as in from fruit. You may be surprised at how much energy you can get from something as simple as an apple. Remember that our biology is actually specialized to turn that simple apple into energy. Candy bars, not so much.
  • Get more fiber. This one may not sound as fun as a milkshake, but there are fiber supplements you can mix into a smoothie that will taste just as good. Fiber helps you to regulate your blood sugar levels, and keeps your intestinal tract in good shape so that you can more readily absorb minerals and nutrients that can give you focus and energy. Fewer slumps means more good vibes.
Watch your weight. Being overweight can easily lead to conditions that affect your body's ability to properly manage blood sugar levels. 


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