According to a recent study published in Scientific Reports, men who eat a diet high in added sugars are more likely to develop anxiety and depression. Interestingly, a similar link was not seen in women.
Researchers followed 5,000 men and 2,000 women for a period of 22 years. They found that men who consume more than 67 grams of sugar per day have a 23% increased chance of poor mental health, compared to men who consume less then 39.5 grams per day.
Lead study author Anika Knuppel from University College London explained, “High sugar diets have a number of influences on our health but our study shows that there might also be a link between sugar and mood disorders, particularly among men. There are numerous factors that influence chances for mood disorders, but having a diet high in sugary foods and drinks might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
She continued, “The study found no link between sugar intake and new mood disorders in women and it is unclear why. More research is needed to test the sugar-depression effect in large population samples.”
This isn’t the first time sugar has been linked to mood disorders. Sugar suppresses the activity of a hormone called BDNF, which is also low in people suffering from depression. Past research has linked heavy sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression.
Knuppel explained, “Sweet food has been found to induce positive feelings in the short-term. People experiencing low mood may eat sugary foods in the hope of alleviating negative feelings. Our study suggests a high intake of sugary foods is more likely to have the opposite effect on mental health in the long-term.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans are consuming about 94 grams of sugar per day – roughly the equivalent of two and a half cans of Coca-Cola. That’s nearly double the government’s recommendation of 50 grams per day! As research piles up connecting sugar to more and more health problems, it sounds like we have some serious cutting back to do.