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Sugar Makes You Depressed--Here's

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Sugar Depresses Your Immune System
July 15, 2018
By Susan M. Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Two things, seemingly unrelated, are true.  First,
depression is growing at such a fast pace that, by 2020,
the World Health Organization predicts it will be the second
leading cause of burden on societies in terms of disease.  
Second, the intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates has
paralleled the growth in rates of depression, especially in
the United States and other countries that follow a Western
diet, according to a 2015 study lead by Dr. James
Gangwisch of Columbia University.  The parallels are not a

Sugar's role in causing depression is emerging from a
number of studies around the world. Collectively, these
studies have highlighted the surprisingly effects that sugar
has on our hormonal and immune systems. The damage
that excessive sugar in the diet causes is so widespread
and devastating that its use has been compared, perhaps
with a degree of exaggeration, to a poison.  Why does
excessive sugar raise rates of depression? What is the
connection between sugar and your mood?

Sugar Directly Targets Your Hormones

You know how you feel during that tie of the month just
prior to the start of your period. If you are like me, you feel
a sudden dip in mood, a sense of loss and depression. You
can't lift yourself u and you don't know why. Then, your
period starts and you feel better.

Eating too much sugar has much the same effect. It
disturbs your hormonal balance. But why and how?

Depression Starts with Inflammation

In 2013, a study from the University of Michigan
connected  the dots between the amount of sugar you
consume and your risk for depression.

That study, conducted by Dr. Marie Almond, Clinical
Director of the PsychOncology Clinic,University of Michigan,
is a breakthrough because it makes an observation that has
been right in front of us since the beginning of human
history. People who get physically sick act depressed.

She reviewed the list of physical diseases and conditions
which coexist with depression.

For example, up to 70% of people who suffer from
autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
also suffer from depression.  About 20% of people with
cardiovascular disease and 62% of people who have been
hospitalized for an infection also experience depression.

The connection between these diseases or conditions and
depression invites the question: are the diseases
themselves making people depressed or is depression
existing alongside the illnesses, perhaps arising from a
common source? The scientists believe that the latter is the
case, that both serious illnesses and depression are
products of the same, common pathway and that pathway

Here are the clues that there is a common inflammation
pathway for depression and many illnesses:

• depression frequently is comorbid with many
inflammatory illnesses

• increased inflammatory biomarkers are associated with
major depressive disorder (MDD)

• exposure to immunomodulating agents may increase the
risk of developing depression

• stress can activate proinflammatory pathways

• antidepressants can decrease inflammatory response

• inhibition of inflammatory pathways can improve mood.

This last connection is one to zero in on. Inhibiting
inflammation improves your mood.  

Sugar and Depression Are Linked Through an
Inflammatory Pathway

Sugar causes inflammation. Cutting back on sugar lowers
inflammation in your body and increasing sugar intake
raises inflammation in your body.

Cutting back on sugar improves your mood by lowering
inflammation, proven by tests of inflammatory markers.
These inflammatory markers include interleukin (IL), C-
reactive protein (CRP) and tumor nercosis factor (TNF).
Studies have found that  IL-6, IL-1â, CRP, and TNF-á
increase with in inflammatory diseases and also in
otherwise healthy individuals with mild depressive disorder.

A massive study on 69,954 women (the Women’s Health
Initiative Observational Study), explored the relationship
between sugar intake and depression.  The study found
that increasing levels of blood sugar predispse
postmenopausal women to depression. In fact, those at the
higher ends of the spectrum of sugar intake have a 23%
greater risk for depression than those at the lower ends of

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