The Effect of Sugar on Your Mood

>> Sunday

I've seen studies showing that sugar doesn't produce hyperactivity in children, but it does something to us all. Eating refined sugar — table sugar and corn syrup in particular — raises your blood sugar level (glucose) very quickly.

In one study, some people had panic attacks merely from an infusion of glucose (blood sugar). In another study, people were given 100 milligrams of glucose as a drink. In anxiety-prone people the lactate level in their blood was considerably higher than in the other participants, and it stayed higher for five hours! (Lactate all by itself can produce feelings of anxiety. Lactate is the byproduct of burning blood sugar.)

In several studies on people with anxiety problems, a simple injection of glucose into the blood stream caused symptoms of anxiety. It does not cause that result with most people. But everyone is different, and some people tend to produce more lactate than others, or they clear it out of their system slower than others, and this makes them prone to anxiety.

If lactate produces anxiety, and if lactate is produced by burning glucose, then it makes sense that a rise in blood sugar would tend to produce anxiety.

Around the world, people consume far more carbohydrates than our bodies evolved to deal with. Why? Because it's cheap, it's filling, and it tastes great. But it has side-effects. Especially for people who are prone to stress or anxiety.

So if you have more anxiety or worry than you want, this is something to think about. Try lowering your blood sugar by eating significantly less sugar and see what happens.

Adam Khan is the author of See Her Smile and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It.

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To Make an Enjoyable Experience More Enjoyable, Share It With Someone

>> Thursday

In the journal, Psychological Science, a new study from Yale University was published in August on the amplification effects of sharing an experience, either good or bad. Here's the abstract of the study:

In two studies, we found that sharing an experience with another person, without communicating, amplifies one’s experience. Both pleasant and unpleasant experiences were more intense when shared. In Study 1, participants tasted pleasant chocolate. They judged the chocolate to be more likeable and flavorful when they tasted it at the same time that another person did than when that other person was present but engaged in a different activity. Although these results were consistent with our hypothesis that shared experiences are amplified compared with unshared experiences, it could also be the case that shared experiences are more enjoyable in general. We designed Study 2 to distinguish between these two explanations. In this study, participants tasted unpleasantly bitter chocolate and judged it to be less likeable when they tasted it simultaneously with another person than when that other person was present but doing something else. These results support the amplification hypothesis. 

We might be better off trying to do enjoyable things with someone if we can, and try to do unpleasant things alone wherever possible. That should amplify the pleasure and reduce the displeasure in our lives. What do you think?

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