This crowd might already be savvy to this (or at least to reducing refined sugars in their diet), but I ran across this Psychology Today article that talks about the possible causal relationship of refined sugars to mental health issues.
I was interested in what the article had to say. For myself, refined sugars seem to de-stabilize my blood sugar even more than I'm normally prone to. This leads to mental abberations of all kinds. (Low blood sugar seems to correlate with my extreme difficulty getting out of bed certain times of the morning, irritability, fatigue, depression/anxiety, memory lapses, increased tendency to get side-tracked, sometimes headaches or dizziness. I am apt to fly off the handle much more easily at petty irritations due to this sense of 'something is wrong but I don't know what and maybe it's ALL YOUR FAULT!' It's embarrassing when I do that and then my long-suffering sweetie says, "Do you need some lunch?")
I definitely feel much less prone to these symptoms when I'm not eating refined sugars. I've been avoiding them steadily for about 6 months now, and it's wonderful.
If anyone is considering this, I'd recommend trying it for about 6 weeks the first time. The doctor in the article said 'a few weeks,' but it took me 3 weeks of misery the first time to figure out what the heck I could still eat. Reading all the labels while shopping is a pain, in some situations I had to compromise and just go by the first 5 ingredients. By 6 weeks on any new diet/exercise program, a person starts to feel what it's like to actually live this way, not just the initial struggle to change old habits. By 4-5 weeks into my first 'sugar fast,' I was feeling more energetic and clearer-headed than I had in years.
(I do still eat things like honey and agave, so I haven't given up all my sweets!)
For myself, refined sugars seem to de-stabilize my blood sugar even more than I'm normally prone to. This leads to mental abberations of all kinds. (Low blood sugar seems to correlate with my extreme difficulty getting out of bed certain times of the morning, irritability, fatigue, depression/anxiety, memory lapses, increased tendency to get side-tracked, sometimes headaches or dizziness. I am apt to fly off the handle much more easily at petty irritations due to this sense of 'something is wrong but I don't know what and maybe it's ALL YOUR FAULT!' It's embarrassing when I do that and then my long-suffering sweetie says, "Do you need some lunch?")
Erica - you sound just like me! My blood sugars dip to the point I will turn violent, and then have no memory of anything that happened for several hours. I've been hospitalised loads of times for it but it was years before anyone noticed the link between my behaviour and the fact that I'd always be as white as a sheet when I was freaking out and demanding sugary sweets the moment I calmed down enough to be coherent. A change of diet and I'm sane again. Well, almost... I still avoid people 'just in case' and live like a hermit avoiding refined carbs and sugars as much as possible. And I still pile on vast amounts of weight just by thinking about food.
Gradually, over time, I'm not producing such crazy amounts of insulin quite so easily, but my blood sugars are also creeping up to match unless I keep a very close eye on my diet, so I guess soon I'll be officially diabetic rather than hypoglycemic. All I need then is for the menopause to take over all the hormonal swings and I might even become a little more human!
On May 26, 2009, Robert Lustig gave a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” which was posted on YouTube the following July. Since then, it has been viewed well over 800,000 times, gaining new viewers at a rate of about 50,000 per month, fairly remarkable numbers for a 90-minute discussion of the nuances of fructose biochemistry and human physiology.
Lustig is a specialist on pediatric hormone disorders and the leading expert in childhood obesity at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, which is one of the best medical schools in the country. He published his first paper on childhood obesity a dozen years ago, and he has been treating patients and doing research on the disorder ever since.
The viral success of his lecture, though, has little to do with Lustig’s impressive credentials and far more with the persuasive case he makes that sugar is a “toxin” or a “poison,” terms he uses together 13 times through the course of the lecture, in addition to the five references to sugar as merely “evil.” And by “sugar,” Lustig means not only the white granulated stuff that we put in coffee and sprinkle on cereal — technically known as sucrose — but also high-fructose corn syrup, which has already become without Lustig’s help what he calls “the most demonized additive known to man.”
It doesn’t hurt Lustig’s cause that he is a compelling public speaker. His critics argue that what makes him compelling is his practice of taking suggestive evidence and insisting that it’s incontrovertible. Lustig certainly doesn’t dabble in shades of gray. Sugar is not just an empty calorie, he says; its effect on us is much more insidious. “It’s not about the calories,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the calories. It’s a poison by itself.”
If Lustig is right, then our excessive consumption of sugar is the primary reason that the numbers of obese and diabetic Americans have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. But his argument implies more than that. If Lustig is right, it would mean that sugar is also the likely dietary cause of several other chronic ailments widely considered to be diseases of Western lifestyles — heart disease, hypertension and many common cancers among them.
It's hard to see the blue on blue background, but the words "posted on YouTube" in the quote are a link to the doctor's lecture.
This is a mom's view of trying to model a better diet for her kids but cutting out sugar (I think one key point is fruit juices - cutting them out and why to cut them out) and has a fantastic summary of how the different types of sugar--glucose, ethanol and sucrose (which is half glucose, half fructose)--act in the body in relation to our liver, fat, etc.
Also includes an interesting editorial on the politics and economics of food.