Under the Hood

How Sugar, Carbs Damage Brain, Mental Health

Unbeknownst to many people, sugar and carbohydrates can actually be unhealthy to the brain and even lead to mental health issues. As to why this is so, find out by reading on.

According to Dr. Georgia Ede, M.D. of Diet Doctor, refined carbs have negative effects on the compounds that are entering the brain. They can destabilize certain hormones and negatively impact mood.

When the hormone insulin is affected, other hormones in the body could also be affected, including the blood pressure regulating hormone aldosterone, sex hormone estrogen and stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

Fluctuating levels of the aforesaid hormones could lead to many problems and most of them affect mental health. Some of these issues are mood swings, anxiety attacks, insomnia, irritability and difficulty concentrating.

When we consume too much sugar and carbs, our brain health is jeopardized. This is because overconsumption of refined carbohydrates actually promotes oxidation and inflammation — two causes and symptoms of many illnesses, including psychotic disorders.

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that is part of the metabolic processes that turn food into energy sources. However, the oxygen molecules involved lead to the production of free radicals that could damage cells.

On the other hand, inflammation is a type of response from the immune system that is characterized by swelling, soreness and reddening of tissues or organs. In the brain’s case, the inflammation happens on a microscopic level. Despite this, the presence of this inflammatory response in the brain could lead to depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

While large consumption of sugar and carbohydrates is dangerous to the brain, its opposite is beneficial to the vital organ. Healthline has reported about low-carb and ketogenic diets as boosters of brain health. These meal plans are said to provide the brain with energy via ketogenesis and gluconeogenesis.

Low-carb intake increases the production of ketone bodies that can provide up to 70 percent of the brain’s energy needs. On the other hand, gluconeogenesis provides the brain with its needed supply of glucose even if carbohydrate intake is quite low.

Therefore, when exogenous carbohydrates are low, the brain gets its fuel from ketones produced through ketogenesis and glucose produced in the liver through gluconeogenesis.

sugar Sugar can do horrible things to your mental health. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay