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Sugar and your Brain

Why sugary foods can affect your mood

“The sugar high’ is something we are all familiar with both in ourselves and in our children – a sudden burst of energy that comes after eating sweet treats. 

But how does that sugar mood lift affect our brain cells?

A brain healthy diet recommends minimising refined sugar and processed foods- but why? 

A study done in Australia in 2015 showed that some parts of the brain are smaller in adults with diets high in sugar  and processed foods. In particular an area of the brain that is important for our memory – the hippocampus- was found to be affected.`**

Why? 

Sugary and processed foods are thought to affect our brain cells in a number of ways. 

One way sugar can cause damage is by triggering inflammation within our cells, 

Another effect of sugar is known as oxidative stress, often described as similar to rust in an old car.

How we food can help our mood 

Certain foods can protect our cells from oxidative stress. 

More research from Australian found replacing refined carbohydrates and processed foods for vegetables, whole foods and fish for 12 weeks reduced levels of moderate to severe depression*

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, oily fish, nuts, seeds and wholegrain have been shown to help protect our cells from the ‘rust’ that can be caused by processed foods and other aspects of our lifestyles including stress. 

Reducing Inflammation

Omega 3 fatty acids from food and Anti Oxidants ( known as flavonoids ) found in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables have been shown to help reduce inflammation.

High levels of inflammation have been found in people with depression and chronic diseases. 

The 2nd brain

Did you know our gut is known as the second brain? This is because the gut and brain are in direct communication. Foods that benefit the good bacteria in our gut are also thought to be helpful for our brain. Sources of probiotics have been shown to help with low mood and anxiety.

Research is ongoing about this hugely exciting area but including sources of fermented foods in our diet- such as kefir or sauerkraut-  can be beneficial to  both our Gut and Brain health 

There is no age too old or too young to start thinking about brain health and how we can help look after our amazing brains.  

Keep Well

Dr Clara Russell 

*https://foodandmoodcentre.com.au/smiles-trial/ 

**https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4563885/