Sugar does not only affect physical health, but it is also strongly associated with increase in anxiety. Seniors beware!
By Dawn Flemming
It is common knowledge that sugar isn’t good for your health. It leads to type 2 diabetes, obesity, tooth decay as well as autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Sugars are not only refined, but they are also processed like high fructose corn syrup which you can find in almost everything, including the coke you drink and the syrup you put on your pancakes.
What is less familiar is the link between sugar and mental disorders. If younger generations can be affected by sugar, seniors are more vulnerable to its deleterious effects.
We don’t have proof that sugar causes anxiety, but we do know that it can make it worse.
Psychology Today writes that:
Individuals who suffer from panic attacks, for example, are hyper-alert to signs of impending danger. Sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty thinking, and fatigue, all of which may be interpreted as signs of a panic attack, thereby increasing worry and fear. A sugar high and subsequent crash can cause shaking and tension, which can make anxiety worse.
A 2008 study on rats showed that high consumption of sugar altered the neuro-chemical balance of mice and created noticeable states of anxiety:
a diet of bingeing on sucrose and chow followed by fasting creates a state that involves anxiety and altered accumbens dopamine and acetylcholine balance. This is similar to the effects of naloxone, suggesting opiate-like withdrawal. This may be a factor in some eating disorders.
If you have a sweet tooth, you may want to go to alternatives. Artificial sweeteners are not recommended as they may be even worse for your health than sugar. However, natural alternatives like stevia, honey or monk fruit may be healthier and less detrimental options.
Dawn Flemming is Director of Business Services at Geriatric In-Home Care in Fresno, California.