High Sugar Intake Changes Behavior and Triggers Mental Disorders

High Sugar Intake Changes Behavior and Triggers Mental Disorders

Mental health disorders have damaging effects on all aspects of the lives of children and adults affected. As scientists examine the causes of conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD) and bipolar disorder, a new triggering factor is emerging as a primary culprit. Researchers from the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus have identified how high sugar intake can play a major role in these disorders. The researchers also noted that high sugar intake also seemed implicated in triggering aggressive behavior.

The research suggests that fructose (one of many types of type of simple sugars) increases the risk for the onset of various behavioral conditions. The emerging theory is that this component of sugar and especially high fructose corn syruptrick the body into sensing that it is starving. One of the physiological cascades that derive from this perceived starvation state is a potentially significant changing a person’s overall mental state.

High fructose levels impacts the energy production in cells, which then triggers a hyper-foraging mental context that is functionally identical to what occurs in during actual starvation. Body chemistry and genetic responses lead to a profound change in one’s mental state, with all priority channeled toward survival and procurement of calories.

High Sugar Results in Increased Impulsivity

The scientists from at the Anschutz Medical Campus suggest that the foraging response causes humans to act impulsively. This survival instinct also triggers more risk taking, rapid decision making, and aggressiveness. Genetically, this response has helped our ancestors secure food throughout history. In the modern world however, researchers say the explosion of sugary foods and drinks may be keeping this emergency reflex active without benefit. Indeed, sugar triggering a hyper-foraging mode acts strongly to our deficit, affecting mood, decision making, and potentially triggering mental illness.

The study, published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, examines how refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup tie to behavioral issues linked to obesity and western diets.

Omega-3 Fats Help Preserve Healthy Mental Function

The role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in physical health is well established, and their role in mental health is becoming increasingly understood. Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in a wide range of chemical functions that are related to nerve formation, neuro-signaling, and neuroinflammation; accordingly, omega-3s play fundamental roles in the development, functioning, and aging of the brain.

In humans, dietary deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with an increased risk of developing various psychiatric disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism.Omega-3 fatty acids, especially those found in seafood (EPA, DPA, DHA) are linked to the maintenance of mental health, and inadequate dietary intake has been implicated in the cascade that leads of mental disorders.

Back to blog