Let’s talk about an important thing: Glycemic Index (GI). Oh, and * spoiler *, how it can affect your mood and potentially increase your risk of depression.
Glycemic Index – What is it?
Basically, GI is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-full foods by how much they raise your blood sugar. A high GI food raises blood sugar more than a food with a medium GI or low GI. High GI foods are the ones you are best to stay away from, as they are very high in carbohydrates, thus likely having adverse affects on your blood sugar levels.
Some High GI Foods may include:
- White Bread
- White Rice
- Rice Cakes
- Packaged Chips
Effects of Hi GI Foods
Now that we have an extremely basic level of understanding of what GI is, let’s take note that frequent consumption of high-GI foods has long-term detrimental health effects, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But now, studies are even showing effects of depression.
A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition1 found that people who consumed diets with more high GI foods had a higher chance of developing depression.
In another study from Alternative Therapies2, it was found that people who consumed foods with high GI experienced a worsened mood. The same study also found that people who consumed food with a low GI experienced an improvement in their overall mood.
What else should I be wary of?
So let’s take these results and apply them to our everyday life.
Most of us feel tired and worn down after eating a whole meal of processed, take away food, which is generally extremely high in GI. So not only will this affect your mental health, but consequently it will affect your daily productivity levels.
When we feel worn out and tired, particularly after something like an entire block of chocolate, we begin to feel lazy and moody and in return, become un-productive. This is not what we want – it’s the opposite of living a lively lifestyle!
Now, if we are being realistic, there isn’t always a possibility to only incorporate low GI foods in our diet, nor is it always essential. A key you can remember is that when you mix low GI food with hi GI, your resulting GI level will be intermediate. Remember to not restrict yourself, as this can create an unhealthy habit, or unhealthy relationship with food.
In conclusion, to increase the time spent in a positive mood state, we need to be mindful about what we are eating and how it can affect not only our physical health, but our mental health, too!
- Try preparing your own meals from home, and having a kitchen handbook with glycemic index levels – this will help when you are thinking about which foods are good to combine (in terms of what is high, medium, and low GI).
- Have a list of foods saved in your mobile phone that have high GI, so then if you wish, you can avoid ordering those in a restaurant.
1Gangwisch, J. E., Hale, L., Garcia, L., Malaspina, D., Opler, M. G., Payne, M. E., Rossom, R. C., & Lane, D. (2015). High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analyses from the Women’s Health Initiative. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 102(2), 454-63.
2Dog, L. (2010). The role of nutrition in mental health. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 16(2), 42.