- Inflammation plays a major role in mental illness.
- Searching for sweetness is a primitive survival instinct.
- Sugar is addictive.
- High caloric load may decrease cognitive skills.
- Poor concentration has led to a changed school curriculum.
- Poor diets associated with adolescent depression.
- Decreasing inflammation through dietary change (Low Carbohydrate Health Fat) may have dramatic benefits.
Nobody wants to be told they are addicted to anything- let alone when it tastes good and is ‘natural’! But there is nothing natural about our consumption of ‘modern fruit‘ and sugar.
From a hunter gatherer aspect, we are wired to search for that sweet fruit tree. The primitive survival instinct of searching for sweetness persists with our shopping and pantry searches!
Studies suggest that after a sugar intake that there is a release of cortisol in the blood stream from the adrenal glands. This has the effect of increasing both the blood pressure and heart rate and gives us that sugar high.
As hunter gatherer’s we tended to be in an alert state rather than the complacent one that we have entered into in the 21st century. There is not much that we need to hunt for these days and we gather most things at our local supermarket. There have been some suggestions that with the caloric intake of around 40% of the current daily intake that our minds become a lot more alert and more focused.
I have read studies where rats are taught a series of tasks and then a control group is pitched against a fructose loaded group and the fructose loaded group perform the tasks poorer. Soft evidence but suggestive that there may be some issue developing.
Dare I say we are stupid not to recognise that our diet is contributing to our health and we don’t wish to concede that we might be responsible for our outcome?
Recent review literature of mental health has shown implications to diet and again high sugar load diets have been noted to be associated with excitability and the role of diet is being considered now in mental health disorders.
The consumption of Sugar and Polyunsaturated Seed Oils combine in our diet to create inflammation in every blood vessel wall and in every tissue in every organ of the body. The inflammatory process makes everything susceptible to damage and disease. Our brains are just another organ as susceptible as any other.
Nucleus Accumbens – Addiction Centre
- Functional MRI reveals sugar loads light up the same centre as a heroin effect.
- From a hunter gatherer aspect, we are wired to search for that sweet fruit tree. The primitive survival instinct of searching for sweetness persists with our shopping and pantry searches!
- Rats exposed to sugar demonstrate sugar bingeing and craving.
- Dopamine and opioid receptor binding with sugar ingestion
- Sugar loads release encephalins (natural opioids) by Encephalin mRNA expression
- Dopamine and acetylcholine release in the nucleus accumbens
- Humans exposed to cake or ice cream show enhanced activation of the nucleus accumbens in the brain by positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, possibly due to alteration in dopaminergic activity.
- Poorer cognitive performance in children in all age groups tested from 3 years through to teenage years.
- Childhood obesity looks to be a predictor of longer term cognitive problems.
- Breakfast is a VERY important predictor of cognitive function, attention and memory in children.
- Obesity as an adult is associated with poorer cognition and a greater risk of Dementia.
- Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome increase the likelihood of poorer cognition and Dementia.
- Obesity in middle age is associated with a more rapid decline in cognition and Dementia.
- Obesity and hypertension in aging males was a poor predictor.
- Several rat experiments point towards fructose and sucrose but not glucose affect memory, object recognition and cognition. One human study supported this.
- ‘Added sugar’ in the diet rather than fruit and vegetable sourced fructose was implicated.
- Simple rather than complex carbohydrates may impair memory performance.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids may have a protective effect on the fructose effect on cognition in rats.
- Human consumption of fish once per week reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Inflammation may be the mechanism of action which fits completely within the NoFructose model of Fructose, Polyunsaturated Fats and Processed Grains creating the ‘Perfect Storm’ of inflammation in every organ of the body.
Smelling that Sweet Sensation
Are you after that ‘sweetness’ hit? Are you still having that craving when that cake is put out at work? It’s hard when you are surrounded by temptation every day and others around you are ‘ribbing’ you about your new ideas about the evils of sugar. It doesn’t worry me and here’s one of my tricks.
Desserts hint. Try just smelling the dessert!
Taste is 90% smell. You know that when you have a head cold (or broken nose) your sense of taste disappears.
The ‘sweet hit’ is all about chemical reactions and the nucleus accumbens lies towards the middle of the brain. It is a part of the brain often known as the ‘Pleasure or Addiction’ centre that keeps us ‘wired up’ to go searching for sweetness. We are all meant to be addicted to searching for ‘sweetness’ as a survival mechanism.
Simply looking at a sweet dessert will trigger a response in the nucleus accumbens of the brain. You can still get a “hit” without actually eating the chemical.
Smelling that dessert will still trigger off another response in the ‘Pleasure’ centre.
Once you are off sugar for a fair period of time then you become particularly sensitive to it. I can now inhale the smell of a sweet, chocolate, cake or dessert, feel some degree of satisfaction with it and a second layer of pleasure knowing that I am not actually taking in the chemical nor the calories.
Just try it. You might surprise yourself.
Aspirin Therapy Reduces Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Research suggests an inflammatory component to a variety of mental illness including schizophrenia. Therapy including aspirin and antinflammatory medication can help in the overall management.
More on Inflammation and Mental Health
Facebook Blog May 15, 2013
Yesterday’s Australian newspaper had an article ‘Aspirin combats mental health’ by Joel Magarey.
He reviews papers and commentary from a recent Psychiatry conference in Melbourne. Included in the article was a comment that ‘Aspirin has been shown to produce significant reductions in the symptoms of schizophrenia.’
He quotes ‘Clinical trials are showing that anti-inflammatory medicines or substances, including aspirin, celecoxib, infliximab and the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil, significantly alleviate the symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia when added to existing treatments.’
A quick literature search confirms this review with articles back as far as 2010.
Here is another huge area of medicine that may benefit not just from treating with anti-inflammatories but by prevention by decreasing the root cause of the inflammation. I keep coming back to our diet. The by-products of Fructose and Polyunsaturated seed oils combine to give inflammation in every organ of the body and that includes our brains.
Long term low grade inflammation anywhere in our bodies cannot be good and our health statistics are all going backwards.
Read about the Damage Process
Read about the Metabolism
Read about the Health Issues
The NoFructose Handout Starter Sheet is your take away summary of this web site. Read it at the NoFructose Starter Sheet area of this web site or download it.
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Depression, diet and exercise. FN Jacka and M Berk. Medical Journal of Australia Open 2012; 1 Suppl; 21-23 doi; 10.5694/mjao12.10508
Effects of fructose vs glucose on regional cerebral blood flow in brain regions involved with appetite and reward pathways. Page KA, Chan O, Arora J, Belfort-Deaguiar R, Dzuira J, Roehmholdt B, Cline GW, Naik S, Sinha R, Constable RT, Sherwin RS. JAMA. 2013 Jan 2;309(1):63-70. doi: 10.1001/jama.2012.116975.
Oiling the Brain: A Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Psychopathology across the Lifespan. Natalie Sinn, Catherine Milte, Peter R. C. Howe. Nutrients. 2010 February; 2(2): 128–170.
This review provides an updated overview of the published and the registered clinical trials that investigate effects of n-3 PUFA supplementation on mental health and behaviour, highlighting methodological differences and issues.
Adjuvant Aspirin Therapy Reduces Symptoms of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders: Results From a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Wijnand Laan, PhD; Diederick E. Grobbee, MD, PhD; Jean-Paul Selten, MD, PhD; Cobi J. Heijnen, PhD; René S. Kahn, MD, PhD; and Huibert Burger, MD, PhD. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 71:5, May 2010
Conclusion: Aspirin given as adjuvant therapy to regular antipsychotic treatment reduces the symptoms of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The reduction is more pronounced in those with the more altered immune function. Inflammation may constitute a potential new target for antipsychotic drug development.