We’re all susceptible to mood swings.
Whether it’s the gloomy weather (everyone seems happier when the sun shines), train delays, or stress at work.
But what if that sweet pick-me-up you rely on to help get you through the day turns out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Recent studies suggest there’s a link between sugar consumption and depression and changes in blood sugar can have a significant impact on how a person feels, including emotionally.
What are the ill effects?
“Refined carbohydrates such as sugar can cause quick fluctuations in your blood sugar levels which can affect your mood,” says Natalie Braithwaite, nutritionist, Nuffield Heath.
“These sugars, which are widely found in sweets, junk food and fruit juices can cause spikes and drops in energy levels which aren’t ideal for your mood as it can make you tired and irritable.”
Indeed, that sugar kick will give a quick rise in the levels of glucose in the blood stream, but this is only short-lived. A blood sugar drop will always follow a sugar high, leading to further consumption of sugar and the continuation of energy peaks and troughs throughout the day.
To stop the vicious circle of lows and highs, it’s important to regulate your sugar intake as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
According to the NHS, all sugars are carbohydrates found naturally in most foods. Their main nutritional value is in providing energy.
However, sugar is also added to lots of foods such as sweets, chocolates, cakes and some fizzy and juice drinks. So, try to keep them to a minimum.
Other explanations on how what we eat affects our mood includes reactions to artificial colours or flavourings, low levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Or our production of brain chemicals: Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, a key feel-good hormone, which are affected by what we eat.
What can we do?
To feel happy on a day-to-day basis and maintain feelings of wellbeing, we need to encourage the hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel good about ourselves – without relying on sugary treats.
The most effective way to boost serotonin is to take more exercise, even a brisk walk in the fresh air can make you feel better about yourself.
Taking time out to spend more time with family, friends and loved ones, as well as being kind to others has been proven to stimulate the hormone oxytocin, which can also help manage your stress.
Estrogen helps form serotonin and protects you from irritability and anxiety, keeping your mood steady.
It decreases with menopause and an estrogen/progesterone imbalance (progesterone helps prevent irritability and mood swings) can have negative effects on your mood.
To keep smiling, try stress relieving activities such as yoga, meditation, a body treatment. Anything that makes you feel good even on a cloudy day!
Do you have days when you feel sadder than others? Tell us in the comments box below