It’s that time of year when sugar is a mainstay ingredient in our food and festivities- even more than it usually is. From Halloween up until New Year’s, we enjoy all the carbs. But watch out. Research says sugar can increase anxiety. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo Pumpkin Pie and Christmas cookies this holiday season. But it does mean you should manage your sugar intake to protect your mental wellbeing.
Sugar raises serotonin
Anxiety gets worse if serotonin levels are too high, according to research. But did you know that sugar raises serotonin, contributing to feeling more anxious?
Sugar disrupts the gut-brain communication
Researchers continue to learn about the vagus nerve – the communication pathway between the gut and brain. Because of this key pathway, the brain can be negatively impacted when the gut is inflamed. We can exacerbate gut inflammation by eating inflammatory foods – sugar being a top offender.
Sugar can elevate stress hormones
Another reason why sugar contributes to anxiety is because when we consume sugar, our blood sugar levels rise. So, the pancreas secretes insulin to move the sugar out of the blood and into the cells. With too much sugar, and therefore, too much insulin, the cells simply stop responding to insulin. This is called insulin resistance and it impacts our stress levels, too.
Carb-heavy comfort food might seem like the right thing to do when you’re stressed out, but it can actually make you feel more stressed and anxious. The research is there to prove it. This study shows that diets high in carbs can make anxiety worse.
You don’t have to boycott sugar and carbs. But consider cutting back on processed foods and sugar whenever you can. Your anxiety will thank you.