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Health: Are Those Sugary Summer Snacks Impacting Your Mental Health?

Photo by Heather Barnes on Unsplash

You worked hard all winter to finally be able to show off your summer body and to indulge in the sugary goodness of sodas, cakes, and every other sweet treat that comes with summer fun. But what is all this sugar doing to your body as you’re having fun in the sun? More importantly, what is it doing to your mental health?

Dr. Teralyn Sell, psychotherapist and brain health expert, explains why it’s important to limit and down right avoid some of our favorite sweet treats this summer.

“Sugar is a major contributor to long term psychological health. In recent research it was found that sugar consumption increases the risk of depressive symptoms due to inflammation on the body and brain. All it takes is intaking more than the daily recommendation of sugar which is 6 teaspoons or 24 grams per adult to increase your risk. The average American consumes 17 teaspoons per day, which is already more than 3 times what is recommended,” says Dr. Sell.

How might this be impacting your mental health?

“We have to consider what is happening to the body and to the brain almost immediately with the consumption of sugar. To put it plainly, the rise and fall of blood sugar is known as hypoglycemia. In someone who eats a high-sugar diet, this rise and fall is very sharp leading the individual to complain of dizziness, headaches, shakiness, and this might lead to feelings of anxiety and depression with fatigue. This is known as reactive hypoglycemia. If such an individual came into a doctor’s office, they would most likely complain about the anxiety and fatigue,” says Sell.

Here are a few high sugar content food and drinks to limit this summer:

Alcoholic beverages

Though not a popular opinion to avoid in summer times festivities, alcoholic beverages are rich in sugars and carbohydrates which can be very problematic. Alcohol has many unexpected consequences outside of intoxication. These consequences can include dysregulating blood sugar, not eating in lieu of drinking, shutting down your thinking brain and disrupting your sleep. Additionally, alcohol can cause dehydration because it is a diuretic. This can lead to a host of problems while you are in the hot summer sun. If you choose to drink, make sure you also eat plenty of protein snacks and hydrate well in between drinks. 

Sodas

An average can of soda contains more than 39 grams of sugar which is almost double the daily recommended amount for an adult. Instead of full sugar sodas opt for sparkling, carbonated water. You get the fizz and flavor without the sugar and it’s negative impacts on your health.

Cookies, cakes, pies, Oh my 

Cookies, cakes and pies are super fun at any outing, but work to limit your consumption. An average cupcake has 30 or more grams of sugar while a chocolate chip cookie has 11 grams. Cakes and cookies go down fast making it easy to fill up on the low quality, high in sugar treats. If you have trouble moderating (you can’t eat just one) opt instead for fruit and protein sources.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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