Science Daily just reported a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that blood sugar increased depending upon the type of carbs eaten. As the glycemic index (the measure of how quickly different carbohydrate are absorbed into the bloodstream) increased there was an association with a higher risk of depression. The study reported that dietary intervention may be a useful treatment or preventative for depression. The 4 year study reviewed data from 70,000 postmenopausal women enrolled in the National Institutes of Health- Women’s Initiative Observational Study.
My decade’s long clinical experience at The Atkins Center in New York city, echoed by the experience of HEAL Diabetes Clinic’s Chief Medical Officer, Eric Westman, MD, MHS, found that restricting carbohydrates for people suffering from bouts of depression or anxiety very helpful for many, often decreasing or eliminating their medications for depression.
The brain is very sensitive to changes in blood sugar whether it is too high, drops too quickly, or drops too low. When blood sugar drops after the high, a stress response in initiated. This causes a release of adrenaline to normalize blood sugar. It is the adrenal hormone that can cause anxiety, mood swings, depression, fatigue, rapid heart rate, palpitations, irritability, and other signs of stress. This blood sugar roller coaster happens several times a day for many people eating the typical diet high in poor quality carbs like refined breads, rice, and sugar laden drinks.
Everyone’s tolerance for carbs varies. If one is overweight, especially around the belly, has a family history of diabetes, craves carbohydrate foods, and also has depression or anxiety, cutting carbs can be an important strategy to reduce or reverse the symptoms of many mental health disorders. As well a carbohydrate restriction should be considered for anyone with cerebral symptoms such as memory concerns, headaches, seizures, and even insomnia.