Sugar in excess may lead to mental disorders

Fructose and uric acid as drivers of a hyperactive foraging response: A clue to behavioral disorders associated with impulsivity or mania?

Author links open overlay panelRichard J.JohnsonaWilliam L.WilsonbSondra T.BlandcMiguel A.LanaspaaaFrom the Division of Renal Diseases, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO 80045, United States of AmericabNew England Inpatient Specialists, North Andover, MA 01845, United States of AmericacDepartment of Psychology, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO 80217, United States of America

Received 2 May 2020, Revised 27 September 2020, Accepted 28 September 2020, Available online 1 October 2020.Show lessAdd to MendeleyShareCitehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2020.09.006Get rights and content

Highlights

Recent studies show that fructose is a unique nutrient that stimulates an innate survival pathway for many species that involves the foraging for food with storage of the energy as fat.•

In Western Society the high intake of sugar has placed this survival pathway in overdrive, leading to an increase in obesity and diabetes.•

Excessive fructose intake may lead to a hyperactive foraging response, contributing to behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, manic depression, and aggressive behavior.

Abstract

Several behavioral disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and aggressive behaviors are linked with sugar intake and obesity. The reason(s) for this association has been unclear. Here we present a hypothesis supporting a role for fructose, a component of sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and uric acid (a fructose metabolite), in increasing the risk for these behavioral disorders. Recent studies have shown that the reason fructose intake is strongly associated with development of metabolic syndrome is that fructose intake activates an evolutionary-based survival pathway that stimulates foraging behavior and the storage of energy as fat. While modest intake may aid animals that would like to store fat as a protective response from food shortage or starvation, we propose that high intake of sugar and HFCS causes a hyperactive foraging response that stimulates craving, impulsivity, risk taking and aggression that increases the risk for ADHD, bipolar disease and aggressive behavior. High glycemic carbohydrates and salty foods may also contribute as they can be converted to fructose in the body. Some studies suggest uric acid produced during fructose metabolism may mediate some of these effects. Chronic stimulation of the pathway could lead to desensitization of hedonic responses and induce depression. In conclusion, a hyperactive foraging response driven by high glycemic carbohydrates and sugars may contribute to affective disorders.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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