Researchers in the United States (U.S.) have found that excessive sugar intake may increase the risk of aggressive behaviour, including conditions such as bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These are the results of a new study published in the journal ‘Evolution and Human Behaviour’.
The ‘Firstpost’ reported that sugar does not have the best reputation when it comes to how it affects human health. However, excess sugar intake has been linked to many health problems like inflammation, high blood pressure (HBP) and fatty liver. Previous studies have suggested that fructose intake may be associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome since it starts a foraging response in the body which is similar to starvation or fasting. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar that is obtained from honey, fruits, fruit juices and vegetables.
High fructose corn syrup, an artificial sweetener, is also present in a lot of processed foods including canned fruits, candies and soft drinks. To determine the real impact of excess sugar on health, a group of researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in the U.S. presented the hypothesis that taking a lot of fructose (the kind of sugar that is present in fruits or high fructose corn syrup, which is a sweetener added to processed foods) may increase the risk of developing behavioural disorders, including aggression, ADHD and bipolar disorder.
They found that while modest intake may protect the body from the side effects of starvation, excessive intake of fructose, specifically high fructose corn syrup, can stimulate craving, risktaking, impulsivity and aggression and increases the risk of ADHD and bipolar disorder.
Long-term and excessive fructose intake may also lead to depression, the team added. However, the study authors mentioned that this link does not negate the other risk factors for mental health such as emotional, familial, environmental and genetic. Based on the findings of the new study, experts have advised that people don’t need to cut fruits and vegetables from their diet since they contain many nutrients and not just fructose. However, moderation is recommended.
Experts recommended that people should have about five servings (80g each) of fruits and vegetables every day. They however called for the reduced consumption of processed foods like canned fruits and vegetables and bottled juices. They also called for the reduction in the intake of soft drinks.