Effect of Carbohydrate Intake on Depression

Effect of Carbohydrate Intake on Depression

By Laura Sheehan

I was never formally diagnosed with depression and I have never taken depression medication, but I can attest to the effect that altering my carbohydrate intake had on my depression symptoms. In short, I am cured of my symptoms when I avoid refined white sugar, and my symptoms return when I begin to consume refined white sugar again.

Research by Akbaraly et al.1 concluded that a processed-food based diet is associated with increased risk for depression while a whole food based diet is protective. In another older study 2, nondepressed individuals were found to consume more protein relative to carbohydrates, but in depressed individuals it was the other way around.

So does this mean that high carbohydrate diets are associated in general with increased risk for depression? Recent research has revealed that depression is more a result of systemic inflammation than a chemical deficiency in the brain.3 Because of the inflammatory effect of high blood glucose 4, one can conclude that eating too much sugar and carbohydrates causes depression.

Many nutrition textbooks state that carbohydrate intake should be no lower than 50-100 grams per day. 5 It is my clinical experience that lowering carbohydrate intake in general to these levels can have a positive impact on mood and help individuals with depression.


    • 1. Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2009;195(05):408-413. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.058925.
    2. Christensen L, Somers S. Comparison of nutrient intake among depressed and nondepressed individuals. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 1996;20(1):105-109. doi:10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(199607)20:1<105::aid-eat12>3.0.co;2-3.
    3. Leonard B, Maes M. Mechanistic explanations how cell-mediated immune activation, inflammation and oxidative and nitrosative stress pathways and their sequels and concomitants play a role in the pathophysiology of unipolar depression. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2012;36(2):764-785. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.12.005.
    4. Dandona P, Ghanim H. A. Insulin infusion suppresses while glucose infusion induces Toll-like receptors and high-mobility group-B1 protein expression in mononuclear cells of type 1 diabetes patients. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2013;304(8). doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00566.2012.
    5. Insel P, Ross D. Carbohydrates. In: Nutrition. 6th ed. Burlington, MA. Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2016: 138-171.


Peace on Earth * Winter Vacation

Dr. Sheehan and I will be on vacation December 24-January 4, and will return January 5. It will be Dr. Sheehan’s and my longest vacation ever. We will return rested and refreshed and better able to be of service to you.

Jen will be in the office Dec 28, 29, 30 and Jan 4 for supplement pick ups. Please contact us if we can be of assistance over the next two weeks, as we will be checking our messages.

I will leave you with a few thoughts on acupuncture. I have been getting regular treatments for the past two months. I notice increased motivation, self-confidence, and stamina, and a positive impact on my female hormonal balance.

Guinevere writes,

“If you suffer from anxiety, acupuncture offers relief. My patients are more relaxed, and self assured than they were prior to receiving acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture works to calm the nervous system and switch people from a chronic fight or flight mentality into the relax and gather mentality.

Whether your anxiety stems from a psychological condition or too much stress in your life, acupuncture can help put you at ease and back in control.

Let acupuncture help you to enjoy your life to the fullest, anxiety free.”

Keep an eye out for specials for acupuncture treatments in the new year–they’re coming!

~Laura Sheehan

“Peace on Earth, Good will to men” Luke 2:14
Wishing you and your family all the blessings and peace of this holiday season, and praying for God’s peace on earth, and in our hearts also.

Acupuncture and Anxiety

by Guinevere Crescenzi, Licensed Acupuncturist

Acupuncture is very effective for treating the symptoms of anxiety and depression.  Numerous studies have shown that it is an exceptionally useful tool either in combination with western pharmaceuticals  and therapy or as a stand alone method.  When used in combination with pharmaceutics, acupuncture reduces unpleasant side effects from the medicine.

If you suffer from anxiety and/or depression, we will discuss your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment strategy.  You may be given homework and nutritional advice based on Chinese medical theory.

Patients have told me that they notice that they are calmer, less worried, less depressed, and have an easier more positive outlook on their lives. Many have also reported they feel results almost immediately, but this is not always the case.

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