Just as certain foods can boost your spirits, others can put you down quickly. Here are the top 3 foods that can cause low mood.
Sugar can cause blood sugar swings, which can cause mood swings, but its role in lowering spirits is even more important. There are at least three mechanisms by which sugar intake can potentially exert a toxic effect on mood and mental health:
– Sugar (particularly fructose) and grains contribute to insulin and leptin resistance as well as impaired signaling, which plays an important role in mental health.
– Sugar suppresses the activity of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) which promotes the health of neurons in the brain. BDNF levels are very low in people with depression or schizophrenia, and animal studies suggest that there may be a causal relationship between the two.
– Consuming sugar also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in the body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of the immune system, which is linked to an increased risk of depression.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley that can negatively impact mood and brain health. Numerous studies have even shown that wheat can have a negative effect on mood, and that it would promote depression and even more serious mental problems, such as schizophrenia. One of the mechanisms that may explain the mysterious connection between wheat and mental health problems is the fact that wheat inhibits the production of serotonin.
Neurotransmitters such as serotonin are found in the brain, but also in the intestines. In fact, a higher concentration of serotonin, which is involved in controlling mood, depression, and aggression, is found in the gut, not the brain!
Wheat, in particular, has also been implicated in certain psychiatric problems, from depression to schizophrenia, due to a network of opioid peptides that disrupt brain activity, and wheat lectin (WBA), which preliminary research has indicated that it has neurotoxic action.
3) Processed foods
The list of mood-damaging ingredients in processed foods is long. In addition to sugar and gluten, they are also likely to contain trans fats, artificial colors, monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners and other synthetic ingredients linked to irritability and depression.