Why Anxiety Suffers Must Avoid Sugar
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Lifestyle modifications are one of the critical ways to overcoming anxiety and depression, and diet plays a major role in a person's lifestyle. Most people wonder whether or not excess sugar consumption is the cause of anxiety, and if cutting it out has the potential to treat anxiety or ease its troublesome symptoms. In this article, we will be exploring the relationship between sugar intake and anxiety and ways to make sure that your plate is not contributing to anxiety attacks.
How are sugar and anxiety related?
The problem with sugar is that it causes spikes and drops in the blood sugar levels, which directly affects mood. A sudden surge of sugar leads to "sugar highs", a term used to describe the availability of a lot of energy in a short time. However, it is temporary and followed by the sugar lows – that leads to feeling sluggish and down.
Excess sugar in the diet can exacerbate your anxiety feelings because of the way your metabolism responds to digesting them. Foods high in sugary cause your blood sugar levels to spike and then drop at a faster rate than they would after consuming a non-high-sugar-foods. This sudden spike and drop cause uneasy feelings, can actually put the body into a stress response, and can even at times mimic a panic attack.
Your body doesn't like being stressed or anxious this way. People tend to combat these uneasy feelings that in various ways, for example, including reaching for sugary foods. Studies have shown that foods rich in sugar trigger the release of serotonin - a feel-good hormone. Furthermore, our brains are trained to eat sugary foods and feel good. This makes it quite understandable why some people stress eat - because they just want to get mental satisfaction, reduce cravings or feel better when they are feeling anxious. However, when the body is stressed, it releases cortisol (a.k.a. the "stress hormone"). When this happens, there is a marked suppression of the production and release of insulin - the essential hormone that takes up and delivers glucose (sugar) into the cells to use for energy.
So, eating more sugar-rich foods lead to higher production of cortisol > release of insulin > transport of glucose in the cells > severe drops in blood sugar levels > more drastic drops in your mood > Anxiety.
How to keep sugar from causing or contributing to anxiety?
Besides sugar, lots of other things contribute to anxiety, including work, stress, family relationships, and even coffee. So cutting out Oreos or dairy-free ice is not the magic bullet for easing anxiety. However, if you have pre-existing anxiety, foods rich in sugar will likely exacerbate your condition. Here's what you can do;
- Reduce your sugar intake – This may include reducing the intake of processed foods, desserts and bread.
- Load up on foods low in sugar – Eating foods high in fiber and low in sugar is shown to affect your blood sugar - and can help cut back on feelings of anxiety. Think whole grains, veggies, and fruit like berries.
- Mindful eating - Stop eating about one to two hours before you go to bed. It gives your body enough time to digest the sugary food properly. It may also help suppress sugar cravings and reduce anxiety symptoms.
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