Eating too much sugar may drive these mental problems

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In a new study, researchers found that conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and even aggressive behaviors may be linked with sugar intake and that it may have an evolutionary basis.

They present a hypothesis supporting a role for fructose, a component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and uric acid (a fructose metabolite), in increasing the risk for these behavioral disorders.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

In the study, the team outlines research that shows a foraging response stimulates risk-taking, impulsivity, novelty seeking, rapid decision making, and aggressiveness to aid the securing of food as a survival response.

Over-activation of this process from excess sugar intake may cause impulsive behavior that could range from ADHD to bipolar disorder or even aggression.

While the fructose pathway was meant to aid survival, fructose intake has skyrocketed during the last century and maybe in overdrive due to the high amounts of sugar that are in the current Western diet.

The paper looks at how excessive intake of fructose present in refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup may have a contributory role in the pathogenesis of behavioral disorders that are associated with obesity and Western diet.

The team recommends further studies to investigate the role of sugar and uric acid, especially with new inhibitors of fructose metabolism on the horizon.

The identification of fructose as a risk factor does not negate the importance of genetic, familial, physical, emotional and environmental factors that shape mental health.

One author of the study is Richard Johnson, MD.

The study is published in Evolution and Human Behavior.

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