Beware of consuming sweets during holidays, they can affect depression

The added sugars found in Christmas sweets may be responsible for the metabolic, inflammatory, and neurobiological processes associated with depression, suggests a study by a team of clinical psychologists at the University of Kansas.

Researchers reached the link above by analyzing a wide range of studies on the physical and psychological consequences of consuming added sugars, comparing it to alcohol abuse.

“ There is evidence that a certain amount of alcohol per day is safe and there may be benefits for some people. Alcoholic beverages have calories, non-nutritious and very toxic in large quantities”, says study.

Sugar, which are similar in nature to alcohol, should be avoided by depressed people and replaced by a healthy diet.

“ Combined with low sun levels in winter, high sugar consumption can have a negative and significant impact on mental health”, emphasize researchers.

“For many people, reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter affects their biological rhythms, causing 5-10% of the population to experience episodes of clinical depression”, explains Stephen Ilardi, an associate professor of Clinical Psychology at American University. In addition, these symptoms of “ winter depression” can make people consume more and more cakes.

Cold weather increases the desire for sugar

“ Desire for sweets is a symptom of winter depression”, adds Dr. Ilardi, referring to at least 30% of the population that shows depressive symptoms and constantly want carbohydrates.

One of the main reasons for this is that sugar is a boost of humor and therefore people with depression use sweets for a temporary solution.

“ Sweets act like drugs, they have an immediate effect on humor, but, in large quantities, they may have catastrophic consequences for a person’s humor, as the gradual loss of joy, an increase in physical inflammation and body weight”, explains the researcher.

How to consume sugar with depression is related

Researchers found that internal inflammation, as a result of a diet rich in sugar, is related to mental health and depressive episodes.

“ A large number of depressed patients have high levels of systemic inflammation”, explains Dr. Ilardi. “When we think about inflammatory diseases, our mind goes to conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis – disease with a high level of systemic inflammation. We do not classify depression as such, but it turns out that it is indeed, for at least half of the depressed population. In addition, we know that inflammatory hormones can push the brain into a state of intense depression. So an irritated brain is usually a depressed brain and added sugars have a pro-inflammatory effect on the body and brain.”

Researchers also found a link between sugar consumption and pathogenic microorganisms in the human body.

“ In addition to those useful ones, there are also some pathogenic, purely parasitic microorganisms that benefit from the presence of sugars and can produce chemicals that cause anxiety, stress and depression”, explains the researcher.

According to Dr. Ilard, a diet rich in plant foods and omega-3 fatty acids and minimally processed foods would provide optimal psychological benefit.

In terms of sugar, he recommends care throughout the year – not only during the holidays – and daily consumption of added sugars not more than 25 grams, according to the instructions of the American Heart Association.

Beware of consuming sweets during holidays, they can affect depression

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