Sugar Intake in Later Life – A Risk for DepressionDr. Jim Collins
For years, the scientific community focused on the association between sugar and physical conditions such as tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. More recently, research is exploring a possible bidirectional connection between sugar and depression, meaning that either sugar leads to depressed moods or adults who are already depressed tend to consume more sugar.
A recent British study examined the intake of sugar from sweet foods and beverages and found a link between their consumption and mood disturbances. They refer to a study where rodents were fed high-fats and high-sugar diets which led to atrophy in their hippocampus, which regulates mood.
Sugar is also associated with increased inflammatory markers and chronic inflammation, both of which may depress one’s mood. High sugar intake can also induce hypoglycemia, alter hormone levels resulting in depression. Being addicted to sugar may interfere with the transmission of dopamine, which plays an important role in depression and anxiety.
Obesity itself can be an influential factor regarding high sugar intake, depression, and inflammation. depression may also be associated with psychosocial factors such as weight discrimination.
Some people develop a sweet tooth later in life. While a little sugar won’t lead to any significant health problem, older adults should be careful about how much they regularly consume. Sugar found in natural foods is by far healthier than that from processed foods. Watch out for sugars that are added to cereals, milk, bread and cheese. They can go by names other than “sugar” including:
- Castor sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice
While all adults should strive to be as healthy both physically and emotionally, older age can be associated with many losses, which in turn might lead to a depressed mood. It’s best to remain active, live meaningfully, and maintain good nutrition. Keep sugar consumption low. Your mood will appreciate it.