Sugar linked to Depression and Eye Health
Added Sugars and Depression? There's a link, According to this New Study.
January 3, 2020
We associate sweet treats with a "sugar high": a burst of energy and positivity that you feel after enjoying a sugary food. Long-term, sugar might have less-positive effects on your mental health, according to a study out of the University of Kansas this month.
Researchers looked at a range of previous studies on both humans and animals that examined the physical and psychological effects of eating added sugar. What they found was that those added sugars, while mood-lifting (and delicious) in the moment, can trigger several processes that can contribute to symptoms of depression. It works in a few ways, researchers found. Added sugars alter the function of the important microbiota in your gut, which are closely linked to psychological health. Other studies suggested that habitually eating high amounts of sugar can interfere with the brain's dopamine "reward system," eventually making it difficult to feel pleasure or motivation, both symptoms of depression.
Added sugars also cause inflammation in the body and the brain, explained coauthor Stephen Ilardi, PhD, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Kansas, in a news release. This was perhaps the biggest influence on mental health that researchers found. About half of people with depression have high levels of inflammation, Dr. Ilardi said. "We also know that inflammatory hormones can directly push the brain into a state of severe depression. So, an inflamed brain is typically a depressed brain."
The extent to which sugar can impact symptoms of depression varies from person to person, but the researchers suggested that the daily limit set by the American Heart Association is a good baseline to follow. For women, that's 100 calories (25 grams or six teaspoons) of added sugars per day and 150 for men (36 grams or nine teaspoons).
SUGAR AND SIGHT
By CrossFit January 14, 2020
In a now famous paper, Dr. Loren Cordain et al. share their research into how the eyesight of hunter-gatherer groups compares to industrialized populations. Myopia (nearsightedness), the most common eye problem worldwide, affects 40% of the U.S. population. In hunter-gatherer groups, rates are typically only 0-2%, and cases are less severe.
In [a] study of 229 hunter-gatherer societies … although refined cereals and sugars were rarely if ever consumed by groups living in their traditional manner, these foods quickly became dietary staples following western contact. Schaefer (1971; 1977) has shown that, in two Eskimo groups undergoing western acculturation, the per capita consumption of sugar in all forms increased from 11.8 kg in 1959 to 47.4 kg in 1967. The same groups’ per capita consumption of cereals and flour products increased from 71.0 kg in 1959 to 80.0 kg in 1967. Prior to western contact, neither of these carbohydrates was ever consumed (Stefansson 1919).
In the U.S., rates of myopia have increased from 25% in the 1970s to 40% in 2000 (1). This coincides with the steady increase of carbohydrates in the standard American diet over the same time period.
The proposed mechanism behind the dietary contribution to myopia is hyperinsulinemia. Excessive insulin triggers an increase in free IGF-1, a hormone that regulates tissue growth. Insulin has been shown in animal models to promote elongation of the eyeball, whereas insulin’s antagonist, glucagon, has been shown to promote hyperopia (shortening of the eyeball)
Researchers have also linked sugar to other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. Carbohydrates bind to proteins and fats in a process called glycation. This process happens non-enzymatically in the body, which is to say haphazardly and disastrously, like pouring sugar into a gas tank.
Nagaraj and colleagues widely recommend eliminating high glycemic index (GI) foods from the diet. These foods release sugar rapidly into the bloodstream, and the body compensates by releasing large amounts of insulin quickly. Fructose has been found to cause up to 10 times as much glycation as glucose. The researchers suggest consuming lots of vegetables, some fruit, and zero high fructose corn syrup is advisable. Research on the relationship between eye sight and low-carbohydrate or ketogenic diets is in the preliminary stages, with one study showing improvement in mice susceptible to glaucoma (4).
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