Monday, October 11, 2010

Sugar and Mood Swings

Some may find the caption rather absurd, irrelevant or even funny. But those who know sugar more than they would find a correlation and a interesting relation. The problem with most of us is that we do not analyze things or don’t ever read the volumes of information on internet, media or even don’t listen to discussions on health issues on various TV channels. Understandably, the glamorous world of entertainment and show biz is more appealing than a stale or serious discussion on health related subjects. I don’t do either (so I and you sail in the same boat). But yesterday, a similar discussion caught my attention in which the doctors and psychiatrists established a relationship between the sugar intake and its effects on our moods.

Well to start with, many believe sugar to give you instant energy. Well yes, but for a very short time. Workers and labourers are often seen taking 3-4 spoons of sugar into their tea on the pretext that more sugar keeps them energetic and alert for a loner period of time. Since they are engaged in physical work, it may help them, but those of us who have a rather comfortable physically less active routine, this may be harmful. Sugar dissolves instantly in our digestive system, causes the blood sugar to rise instantly, but then lower dramatically thereafter. The rapid rise and fall of sugar levels results in mood swings and jitteriness. Besides it also adds to weight gain, which is one of the major factors of depression in people with obese stature. Not only this, since the refined sugar instantly dissolves into the body, it raises sugar level beyond the required levels and prolonged high level of sugar levels result into onset of a deathly disease – the diabetes.

People who are obese, therefore get worried too often about their health and in a state of low mood for not getting rid of the extra fats, resort to haphazard eating habits, further compounding their problems and negative mood swings. Besides, irregular and uncontrolled blood sugar levels make one feel fatigued often, result in poor concentration and the urge to eat more sweets. That is when the red light should star blinking in your mind. So what to do? How to control one’s mood with the help of alternatives to sugar? That is a million dollar question, with a free answer herein under.

I don’t have a magical answer, but by simply altering our dietary habits, we can not only reduce the risk of diabetes and get rid of obesity, but can also alter our moods on the positive scales. Ensure steady levels of blood sugar that would make you more relaxed, allow arrest of oscillating mood changes, assist in more concentration and in the end make you happy, less depressive and anxiety free.

To start with, abandon all attractive and mouth watering fast carbohydrate releasing “things” like chocolate biscuits (each carrying 400 calories and remember last time you ate four to six from the pack smilingly, that added 2400 calories – the recommended daily intake of calories in seconds – and then you ate other things too totaling your calories to God knows how many and innocently making you more obese, with more sugar level and more at risk to diabetes). Also even stop looking at sweets, cakes and pastries, things made with white flour etc. But what to do with the chapattis we eat made from the white flour as generally people don’t like mixed flour (aata). Remember all these release their energy and also glucose instantly which is harmful. So while staying away from all types of cookies, cakes and pastries eat bran bread or chapattis made from normal flour not white flour.


For the satisfaction of your sweet tooth, eat fruit, especially cherries and plums, as they release their energy very slowly and avoid abrupt increase in sugar levels. Here is a caution in selection for fruits as wrong selection may also result in abrupt sugar levels. Avoid fruits that are known for their quick energy miracles like grapes and bananas. Even apples and pears fall a level below the category of bananas and grapes. Berries are best to provide you adequate sugar and still satisfy your craving for the sugary eatables. So eat lot of berries and cherries and plums too as these are the slowest in their energy release.

Also to regulate your blood sugar level, eat in small portions many times a day rather than the usual three meals we take in Pakistan. Coupled with this, start with a King’s breakfast, rich in fibers and proteins, followed by a few snacks till dinner (snacks may even mean a plum, apple etc) and at the end at dinner, make it a beggar’s choice. Beggar’s meal means a very light meal to give you adequate energy from dinner time to dawn. The less you eat at night, the less sugar is produced. When you get up in the morning after a beggar’s dinner, you will find yourself fresh, energetic and healthy.

Do you like cinnamon? If not, start liking cinnamon from this day onward.  Cinnamon (Daarcheeni in Urdu) is found to be the best thing to balance out your sugar levels. A teaspoon of this magical wood like thing adds greatly to reducing and arresting the rising blood sugar level by producing reduced levels of insulin. I will write more about cinnamon sometimes later.

The last tip: Eat raw carbohydrates and proteins as against refined carbohydrates and refined proteins since these refined things have an adverse effect on digestion.

Well all these tips are for those who are really concerned about their health, attitudes, relations and life. With sugar level well regulated and harnessed, the mood swings are going to be less provocative, meaning by pleasant relations with your spouse, family, friends, and relatives and even at office. You will fell fresh, less fatigued and worn out with lesser headaches and anxieties. And you know what: you will look smarter day by day. Wouldn’t you like that?

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A very good and informative article. Jalal I do agree with the cinnamon suggestion as I have personnally experienced it. However, I tend to disagree with the Banana part of it. Banana is the most energetic fruits of all and with no or very less such side effects as discussed in the article.
On the whole a very good article. Keep it up. Durrani

As a diabetic living in a county where 70% of population is overweight and 30% clinically obese, sugar is a four-letter word here. Indeed diabetes is virtually an epidemic here not only due to the massive consumption of sugar but also due to a sedentary lifestyle. Sugar is a type of poison that kills one slowly --- diabetes, blindness, limb amputation and a host of other maladies are caused by sugar or plain over-eating. I personally have drunk only sugar-free drinks for the last 10 years and never use sugar in my tea/coffee.

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