What’s the relationship between sugar and bipolar disorder? Simple carbohydrates such as sugar are found in sweets such as cookies, ice cream, candy bars as well as cupcakes. Sweets can make you feel better temporarily, but all of that sugar can be bad news when you have bipolar disorder.
Can switching to complex carbohydrates help manage your bipolar symptoms, instead of making them worse?
What Is Sugar And Its Role In What You Eat?
The white stuff we called sugar is also called sucrose, your body turns it into blood sugar (glucose) and uses it as energy. This simple carbohydrate occurs naturally in many foods such as fruits and vegetables. However it can be added to many processed foods.
Processed food is a broad term for any food products that’s been cooked, canned, frozen as well as packaged. It’s food that’s been changed in some way from its natural state, not all processed foods are unhealthy but there are some that are.
Processed food is unhealthy when its nutritional content is lost when it’s being made. Also, sodium as well as sugar is added it it to not only add flavor but it extend shelf life. As a result, your health is not as good and this includes your brain health.
Sugar And The Bipolar Brain
Carbohydrates are needed because they provide you with the energy your brain needs. Their intake results in the production as well as the release of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These include serotonin, which causes a calm feeling and lowers depression.
Bipolar disorder is caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals which leads to mood swings. For example, an imbalance leads to low serotonin and can trigger your appetite. When this happens, you may have a craving for simple carbohydrates such as sugar, specifically refined sugar.
When someone with bipolar disorder is having an episode that’s either manic or depressive, they may be self-indulging in sugary snacks as an unhealthy coping strategy.
Here’s a related post: “Tips For Helping A Bipolar Brain!”
How Sugar Affects Bipolar Disorder?
Self-indulging in too much sugar causes worse problems if you have bipolar disorder. Bad enough, you’re already having extreme mood swings but they’re made worse because of too much sugar.
Eating too much sugar is harmful to brain health. It leads to not only memory problems, but also sugar addiction as well as a decline in overall health.
A diet high in sugar or other simple carbohydrates can make it hard to control weight and obesity. Also, it may make bipolar treatments less effective.
Another long term problem caused by weight gain and obesity is diabetes. Did you know that there’s a high rate of diabetes in people with bipolar disorder?
There are many treatments for bipolar disorder that cause weight gain as well as sugar cravings. The disorder itself leads to cravings as well. As a result, you’re blood sugar (glucose) can become so high that it not only makes mood swings worse, but it can trigger them.
If you’re concerned about sugar cravings as well as other side effects to bipolar medication, talk to your doctor.
Let’s Explore Complex Carbohydrates
The human body needs carbohydrates. They’re the main source of energy your body needs, the biggest consumer of that energy is your brain.
Instead of eating simple carbohydrates such as sugar, you should consider complex carbs such as quinoa and oatmeal.
Benefits Of Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates are also turned into blood sugar in the body and used as energy. Overall they have more natural sugar, fiber as well as higher nutritional content and have more health benefits.
Let’s explore some of the health benefits:
The body needs carbohydrates for energy, without them you’ll feel tired and fatigued all day long. Simple carbs such as sugar provide quick energy, complex carbs provide even more energy and they’re released slowly.
If you eat a big meal with complex carbs early enough in the day, you can stay full longer and have the energy to get you through the day.
Helps You Stay Full Longer And Improves Mood:
Since complex carbohydrates have more fiber, they help you stay full longer.
Fiber not only keeps you full longer and improves digestion, it also slows down your blood sugar. As a result, you not getting hungry as often and also your mood is better.
Here’s an interesting fact, many complex carbs such as oatmeal, sweet potatoes as well as brown rice contain large amounts of tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that your brain changes into the brain chemical serotonin. As a result, it boosts your mood, relaxes your body and helps you fall asleep.
Along with tryptophan, eating oatmeal helps your body produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
When you eat some complex carbs at night, they can help you get better sleep.
Improved Brain Function:
Carbohydrates are important for brain function. Lack of carbs leads to brain fog, feeling light headed as well as lack of concentration, anxiety and depression.
When you eat too many simple carbohydrates such as added sugar, your your brain can be harmed. As a result, you can have problems with slower cognitive function as well as problems with memory and attention.
Eating complex carbs not only provide energy for your brain, they help in other ways. They elevate brain function by providing a steadier source of energy and they protect your brain against cell damage caused by free radicals.
Nervous System Function:
Simple carbohydrates like sugar can make you jittery and anxious, which makes many mental disorders worse. Complex carbs on the other hand provide a grounding effect to your body by making you less nervous and anxious.
This explains why after eating a bowl of oatmeal or a plate of sweet potatoes, you feel so relaxed afterward.
Have You Ever Considered Changing Your Diet?
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