Mental health problems have indeed become widely common today. But did you know that diet could significantly affect your mental health? A new study conducted by the University College London (UCL) researchers found a connection between high sugar consumption and mental health issues, particularly in men.

Mental health is considered an essential aspect at every stage of life. Sadly, almost 350 million of the population in the world are suffering mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. In fact, the global economy is losing almost $1 trillion in productivity cost each year due to psychological problems.

Link between sugary diets and mood disorders

As depression continues to affect millions of people, a new research revealed the “strong link” between mood disorders and overconsumption of foods with high-sugar level contents. The findings showed that men who consumed more than 67 grams of sugar daily had a much higher risk of having common mental disorders (CMD) such as depression, citing a 23 percent increase.

The UCL team also made a conclusion that was published in the journal Scientific Reports on July 27, suggesting that the consumption of sugar in low or high levels could have a significant impact on the psychological well-being of humans. But despite the findings, UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health doctoral candidate and lead study author Anika Knüppel stressed the need for more research to be done to prove the connection between sugar and depression as they found “no link between sugar intake and new mood disorders in women,” Yahoo!

News UK noted.

Reverse causation theory

The UCL researchers noted that the connection between high sugar intake and increased risk of depression may be attributed to “reverse causation,” which refers to the likelihood that a mood disorder may lead to an increase sugar consumption.

This theory, however, did not explain the study.

The reason? The link weakened when other dietary and health factors, as well as the sociodemographic, were taken into consideration. The experts also discovered that sugar consumption among the respondents in the survey with mental health disorders was no higher compared to those without psychological illnesses.

Recent findings should be taken with ‘caution’

The recent findings regarding the link between sugar consumption and depression, however, were met with skepticisms from other experts. In fact, British Dietetic Association spokesperson and dietician Catherine Collins said the findings were “unproven and impossible to justify,” citing the fact that the researchers might have confused “naturally-occurring sugars” from the foods and the “free sugars” added into it.

Nutrition expert Tom Sanders, on the other hand, stressed that the recommendation should be taken “with caution.” Sanders added it would be pretty challenging for the researchers to determine the difference between the sugar in foods and those from other sources of carbohydrates when it comes to mental health.

Increasing evidence of sugar’s effect on human’s health

In spite of the skepticisms, the study suggested that sugary diets could do more harm than good on our health. Aside from its harmful effects on our weight and teeth, as well as its newfound impact on mental health, excessive consumption of sugars is also linked to diabetes, inflammatory diseases, and heart disease.