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We easily think of many mental health problems, such as anxiety, as a completely separate issue from our physical health. But the truth is that how you feel mentally can be directly linked to what you are putting into your body and how you feel physically. To be more specific – excess sugar is one of the biggest factors when it comes to poor mental health.
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. Many people are given SSRI medications which makes more serotonin available to your brain. It was believed that when these medications were developed, that depression and anxiety were caused by low serotonin levels. In the meanwhile, it has been found that high levels of serotonin are actually making anxiety levels much worse for some people. This means that sugar (which also makes serotonin levels higher) will be contributing to your anxious feelings.
More On Blood Sugar
When you really examine blood sugar, you’ll find that the anxiety-sugar factor makes even more sense. When you’re consuming too much sugar, you will experience blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalances. When this happens your HPA axis (responsible for releasing the stress hormone – cortisol) gets thrown off. If your adrenals are constantly thrown off with sugar, you will struggle to calm down and this might increase feelings of anxiety. It is important that your blood sugar levels should be stabilized if you want your HPA axis to function as it should. If your blood sugar levels are off, you’ll also be craving more salty and sweet foods. This means that switching to a low-sugar diet can lower anxiety drastically after just a few weeks.
CLA safflower oil is an excellent supplement when it comes to stabilizing blood sugar. It will also increase feelings of satiety and help you lose weight.
Click here to find out how to stabilize your blood sugar.
The Link Between Gut Health And Mental Health
The balance of bacteria in your gut is largely responsible for your overall health. It is up to you whether you’re going to feed the bad or the good bacteria. Unfortunately, sugar feeds yeast overgrowths like Candida as well as the bad bacteria. An imbalance gets created when bad bacteria take over, which can lead to chronic inflammation. Even though it may not feel like you have digestive problems, as you aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms, it might just be that the symptoms are manifesting themselves in other areas of your body, like your nervous system or brain.
Your brain and gut, are in fact, connected from the very start. These two organs develop from the same fetal tissue in the womb and communicate continuously throughout life.
Read more about the gut-brain connection here.
Is Sugar A Problem For You?
The following labs can be run in order for you to find out how drastically you’ll need to change your diet and in order to understand where your baseline is. These labs will assess blood sugar, brain and gut function:
- Microbiome labs check your gut bacteria
- Stool analysis (assess bacterial diversity).
- Occludin and Zonulin Antibodies (proteins that control gut permeability).
- Lipopolysaccharides Antibodies (bacterial endotoxins – a sign of leaky gut syndrome).
- Actomyosin Antibodies (if they are present it means that there was some sort of destruction of the gut lining).
- Autoimmune reactivity labs look for raised antibodies against certain parts of the brain.
- Blood sugar labs are done to determine whether your blood sugar is balanced and whether it is contributing to anxiety. The optimal ranges for the following are:
- Serum insulin: < 3 ulU/mL
- Fasting blood sugar: 5 to 90 mg/dL
- C-peptide: 0.8 to 3.1 ng/mL
- Triglycerides: < 100 mg/dL
- HDL: 59 to 100 mg/dL
As soon as you know where your health stands, you can start to stop feeding your anxiety with sugar. Of course, life is all about balance and, therefore, you should treat yourself here and there. However, rather try to make smarter choices by using natural sweeteners instead. Raw honey is an excellent choice as it has a really high antioxidant content and it has even been shown to decrease anxiety when eaten instead of sugar.