On April 29, 2011, I wrote an article for the Boles University Blog — Bipolarism and Sugar Consumption — where I argued depressed people were self-medicating with refined sugar to create a false high that then quickly resulted in an even deeper, depressive, low:
Bipolarism is defined by manic highs and severe lows and medication can help keep that under control, but there is the silent danger of the over consumption of sugar to help retain those dramatic highs and valley lows — but few patients and doctors are prescient enough to also prescribe a “no sugar” diet to Bipolar patients in addition to medication.
If you suffer from Bipolarism, and if you crave sugar to unwittingly help replicate the emotional highs and lows of your disease — try carving sugar out of your diet, and that includes alcohol, too — and see if you don’t immediately start feeling warm and neutral and safe again.
Today, I am fascinated to share with you new scientific information that sugar can, indeed, manifest itself as depression by chemically interfering with proper brain function. Sugar impairs thinking and dulls emotion:
The typical supermarket is filled with processed foods where the only relevant “nutrient” is some form of sweetener. (So-called “added sugars” – they are injected into food during manufacturing – now account for 16 percent of total caloric consumption. That’s 21.4 teaspoons of sugar and corn syrup every day.) While such snacks are unfailingly cheap and tasty, they also lead to sudden spikes in blood sugar and a reduction in orexin activity. We eat them for the energy boost, but the empty calories in these foods make us tired and sad instead.
(There’s some suggestive evidence that chronically low levels of orexin can increase the likelihood of depression.) And so we keep on swilling glucose, searching for a pick-me-up in all the wrong places.
When will we learn to drop the spoonfuls of sugar and pick up the edamame? Are we cursed as a people to choose the sugar high over the proper protein fix? Can we ever give up the sweet tooth in favor of the alive mind?