Posted on: 05.05.2022 Posted by: Drlark Comments: 0

June 11, 2004

Stress and Anxiety

Sugar Causes High Anxiety

Sugar is one of the most overused foods in the

Western world. It’s in desserts, cereals, salad dressings, ketchup,

relishes, gum, and certainly in candy. If you eat foods made with

white flour, what you get is the action of simple sugars in your

body. And if you consume great quantities of sugar products, you

may trigger a hypoglycemic episode. Sometimes that feels like a

full-blown anxiety attack—trembling, disorientation, light-headedness,

palpitations, and even migraine headaches.

Here’s the sequence of physical events that occurs

when you put large amounts of sugar into your body in a short period

of time:

  • Sugar is absorbed rapidly from

    your digestive tract into your bloodstream.

  • Your pancreas secretes insulin to clear the

    sugar from your blood and to help your cells absorb that sugar

    to produce energy.

  • In response to large amounts of ingested sugar,

    the pancreas overproduces insulin.

  • That causes blood sugar levels to fall too low.

  • When blood sugar levels drop precipitously,

    the anxiety-like symptoms of hypoglycemia occur.

  • Then, because your blood sugar level has dropped

    significantly, your brain is rapidly deprived of energy. (Keep

    reading; it’s not over yet.)

  • To protect your brain, the adrenal glands release

    the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, forcing your liver to restore

    balance by pumping stored sugars into circulation.

  • And, no surprise, the spurt of the adrenal hormones

    increases your anxiety, yet again.

If, at this point, you eat a piece of chocolate

for comfort, you start the entire cycle over again.

And if you consistently eat a diet of refined carbohydrates, you

may develop not only hypoglycemia but a cluster of related problems.

Over time, a high intake of refined carbohydrates also leads to

glucose intolerance, diminished insulin sensitivity (which also

plays a role in weight control), high blood pressure and elevated

cholesterol levels. This aggregate of serious conditions puts you

at high risk for heart disease.

The diet antidote for hypoglycemia

But here’s the good news. You can easily solve

this problem by switching to a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrate

foods combined with protein and oil to stop your stomach from emptying

food too quickly. This healthy combination of food is broken down

and absorbed more slowly than refined carbohydrates, giving you

the energy benefits without the anxiety.

Shoot for 50 grams of fiber in your daily diet

from legumes, oat bran, nuts, seeds, pears, apples, and most vegetables.

(A 1978 study showed that apple pectin and oat bran have a positive

effect on blood glucose levels.) And try eating frequent, small

meals rather than one or two large ones each day.

Here’s an example. In the middle of the afternoon,

when you would have had that Snickers bar, try tuna and a little

canola oil mayonnaise on a rice cake. Later in the evening, before

you reach for those peanut M&Ms, have almond butter on a cracker.

Or eat a banana or apple slices with a little sesame butter (tahini).

Several studies have shown that eating fruit decreases the amount

of calories and fat a person consumes. These combinations will give

you the boost you seek without the emotional roller coaster.

Obviously, avoid white flour, sugar, fruit

juice, and even honey or maple syrup, which will make it difficult

to bring your blood sugar under control. Don’t replace sugar with

aspartame; the sugar substitute increases your appetite and can

cause anxiety symptoms. And avoid alcohol. It induces hypoglycemia

by interfering with glucose utilization and increasing insulin secretion,

which results in a drop in blood sugar.

Read More on Anxiety and Stress:

Getting Started

“Fight or Flight”

Systems in the Body Affected by Anxiety

Quiz: How Balanced are Your Neurotransmitters?

Keep it SIMPLE tip — Think Good Thoughts

Nutritional Therapies

Restore Your Ability to Manage Stress

with a Stress-Reducing Diet

Restore Your Ability to Manage

Stress with Stress-Reducing Supplements

Replenishing the Pathways

Sugar Causes High Anxiety

Complementary Therapies

The Sponge Yoga Pose

Reduce Stress with Reflexology

Aromatherapy for Relaxation



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