Friday, October 16, 2020

Did you know that what you eat can dramatically impact how you feel for the rest of the day?

You may recall enjoying a heavy meal - say, three slices of your favorite pizza followed by a huge ice cream sundae - and subsequently feeling moody and lethargic. Or you may have just enjoyed a big bowl of salad and felt focused and invigorated afterward.

On the other side of the spectrum, your mood can also influence the food you crave. If you had a rough day at work, you're more likely to finish a tub of activated charcoal ice cream and fries while watching your favorite sitcom. If you finished a good workout, on the other hand, you may want to grab something healthier, such as steamed vegetables, grilled chicken, and your favorite flavored water minus the artificial sweeteners.

Simply put, numerous foods can either make or break your happiness. But if there's one food that you should be wary of, it's sugar because nothing can jeopardize your mood more than excessive intake of sugar.

How Does Sugar Affect Your Mood?

"But how can sugar make me sad? It makes me happy!" you might say.

Sugary treats have become the go-to comfort foods of people who are stressed and sad. But excessive consumption of your favorite sweets could negatively influence your mood.

Think about the time you over-indulged in chocolates or enjoyed a second (or third) helping of pasta. At first, you might have felt good since these are the exact foods you wanted. But as the body converted the carbohydrates into sugar, you might have started to feel cranky, tired, mentally foggy, or a little anxious.

Initially, sugar satisfies your brain's craving centers. It increases your heart rate and blood pressure, which can give you a surge of 'happy' energy. But after the surge of energy comes the crash, aka the sugar crash. The higher your sugar levels go, the harder you will fall.

Symptoms of your blood sugar spiking include headaches and fatigue. Low blood sugar, on the other hand, creates irritability and anxiety. These up-and-down moments with your sugar levels create a series of highs and lows that can negatively influence your mood.

Finally, sugar can also act as a drug by triggering your brain's reward neurotransmitter, dopamine. Studies prove that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine. Even though you know the sugar isn't good for you and your mood, you still crave those treats that leave you feeling bad.

Sugar's Role in the Gut-Brain Link

Excessive consumption of sugar causes inflammation throughout your body, including your gut. Studies show that gut inflammation can also cause mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. What affects your gut affects your brain, too.

Your gut sends a variety of neurotransmitters and hormones to your brain. One of them is serotonin, the hormone in charge of your mood and feelings of well-being. Your gut manufactures serotonin. If you don't have enough of these mood-influencing neurotransmitters due to a gut problem, you may experience mood disorders.

Reduce Sugar to Optimize Your Mood

The momentary bliss sugar offers come at the cost of exacerbating or triggering feelings of depression and anxiety. If you want to stabilize your mood, reduce the amount of sugar you consume. Apart from reducing your sugar intake, creating healthier lifestyle strategies can make you feel good.

Consider the following:

  • Get off to the right start. Start your day with a healthy breakfast rich in fiber and protein. This healthy breakfast will not only reduce your sugar cravings; it can also stabilize your mood. Go for oatmeal with dried fruit or wheat bread with natural fruit jam.
  • Satisfy your cravings with mood-boosting foods. Improve your mood with good mood foods that are nutrient-dense. Among these foods include the following:
    • Low-sugar fruit and non-starchy vegetables. These foods are rich in mood-enriching nutrients such as iron, vitamin B1 and folate. Include plenty of berries and leafy greens in your meals.
    • Dark chocolate. If you're craving for chocolate, go dark. Dark chocolate can reduce tension and increase pleasant feelings. Satisfy your chocolate cravings by looking for an organic raw dark chocolate and enjoy in moderation.
    • Green tea. Ditch the sweet coffee for calming tea rich in the amino acid L-theanine, which can stabilize your mood.
  • Work on your sleep. If you have struggled with mood disorders after a night of bad sleep, work on your sleeping habits. Good sleep is crucial for people of all ages so try to get at least eight hours of sleep.

Sugar can make you happy, but for just a little while. Instead of settling for sweet, short-term serendipity, think long-term and reduce your consumption of sugar today.


Post a Comment

Feel free to share your thoughts. However, kindly refrain from adding links in your comments because they will be marked as spam and filtered out. Thank you!