New research Indicates that conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome (ADHD), bipolar disease, and even aggressive behaviors might be associated with sugar consumption, and that it might have an evolutionary basis.
The study, from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and published in Evolution and Individual Behavior, presents a hypothesis supporting a role for fructose, a part of sugar and higher fructose corn syrup, and uric acid (a fructose metabolite), consequently increasing the danger of all these behavioral disorders.
“We present evidence that fructose, by lowering energy in cells, triggers a foraging response similar to what occurs in starvation,” said lead author Richard Johnson, MD, professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
Johnson outlines research that reveals a foraging response arouses risk taking, impulsivity, novelty seeking, rapid decision making, and aggressiveness to aid the securing of food as a survival reaction.
“While the fructose pathway was meant to aid survival, fructose intake has skyrocketed during the last century and may be in overdrive due to the high amounts of sugar that are in the current Western diet,” Johnson adds.
Overactivation of the process from excess sugar intake may cause impulsive behavior which could vary from ADHD, to bipolar disorder or even aggression.
The paper looks at just how excessive sugar consumption of fructose existing in refined sugars and higher fructose corn syrup may have a contributory role in the pathogenesis of behavioral disorders that are associated with obesity as well as Western diet.
Johnson notes, “We do not blame aggressive behavior on sugar, but rather note that it may be one contributor.”
Johnson recommends additional research to investigate the role of sugar consumption, glucose 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,” he adds.