Sugar Addiction: Depression and Anxiety - dummies

Sugar Addiction: Depression and Anxiety

By Dan DeFigio

Sugar addicts commonly suffer from anxiety. Sugar abuse produces a blood-sugar roller coaster that can trigger anxiety attacks. When blood sugar levels crash, your brain gets desperate for food, and your body can become shaky, weak, confused, and anxious.

If you’re stressed out all the time, check yourself — do you frequently find yourself breathing shallowly or even unconsciously holding your breath? When is the last time you took a deep breath and dropped your shoulders away from your ears?

As blood sugar levels plummet, the brain reacts by sending out a panicked adrenaline alarm, leading to severe anxiety. People who are prone to anxiety attacks generally walk around in a state of heightened stress anyway, so it doesn’t take much to push them over the edge — a sugar crash is often just the ticket.

Another way that sugar can cause an anxiety attack is by causing lactic acid to build up in the bloodstream. Lactic acid is the final product in the breakdown of blood sugar (glucose) when there’s a lack of oxygen. If you’re prone to anxiety, a buildup of carbon dioxide and lactic acid in the blood causes a pH change in your brain that signals your amygdala to trigger feelings of anxiety and fear.

Adrenaline junkies often report that they need caffeine or sugar to jump-start their energy in the morning. To calm yourself down and gradually coax your adrenal glands back into normal functioning, start weaning yourself off sugar and coffee, and try green tea instead.

Green tea contains less caffeine than coffee and high amounts of the amino acid l-theanine, which can help you stay calm and focused. Licorice tea is another smart choice — it’s naturally sweet, and it helps improve your adrenal function.