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A Surprising Link Between Sugar and Mental Health

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Noted British psychiatric researcher Malcolm Peet conducted a provocative cross-cultural analysis of the relationship between diet and mental illness. His primary finding was a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk of both depression and schizophrenia.

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There are at least two potential mechanisms through which refined sugar intake could exert a toxic effect on mental health. First, sugar actually suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in the brain called BDNF. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.

Second, sugar consumption triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system, and wreaks havoc on your brain. Once again, it’s linked to a greater risk of depression and schizophrenia.

Resources:
Psychology Today July 23, 2009
The British Journal of Psychiatry May 2004;184:404-8

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News on Health & Science

Insecurity may impact your immune system

Feeling insecure in close relationships may take a toll on the immune system, preliminary Italian research suggests………...click & see 

A team led by Angelo Picardi from the Italian National Institute of Health in Rome reports its findings in Psychosomatic Medicine.

In a study of 61 healthy women the researchers found that those who had difficulty establishing close, trusting relationships showed signs of weaker immune function.

Specifically, lab experiments showed that the women’s “natural killer”immune system cells were less lethal compared with those from other study participants.

Whether this means they’re more susceptible to disease is unknown, and for now the answer to that question is a “very prudent maybe”, says Picardi.

The findings are in line with research showing that chronic stress can impair immunity, and the extent of the impact may depend on how an individual perceives and responds to stress.

In short, personality traits may affect immune function. The researchers looked at the trait known as “attachment insecurity,”characterised by difficulty trusting and depending on others, feeling uncomfortable with emotional intimacy or worrying about being abandoned by loved ones.

A person’s “attachment style”forms in childhood, based on a child’s relationship with his or her parents, says Picardi. And it affects and is further shaped by romantic relationships later in life. So attachment style can be seen as a fairly stable trait that affects a person’s response to stressful events.

Picardi says attachment insecurity affects people’s ability to regulate emotions, including how they perceive and deal with stress—which may affect the body’s physiological response to stress.

For their study, Picardi and team recruited a random sample of female nurses, who were younger than 60 years old, had no chronic illnesses and no history of major psychiatric disorders.

The researchers measured the women’s attachment style using standard questionnaires and collected blood samples to study the function of their immune system cells.

The study found, women with greater attachment insecurity had lower activity in their natural killer cells, key defenders against illness.

Picardi noted that in other research, his team found associations between insecurity and certain skin diseases related to immune dysfunction.

These include plaque psoriasis, a condition where scaly patches form on the skin, and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss.

Source:The Times Of India