My answer to Is sugar especially bad for people with any sort of mental illness?

Answer by Connie b. Dellobuono:

Research has demonstrated that both high levels of refined sugar and saturated fat can produce structural changes in the brain, particularly via neurotrophins like BDNF. Those that are on a high saturated fat and refined sugar diet tend to demonstrate noticeable reductions in both spatial learning and hippocampal functioning.

  • Cut refined sugar: It’s difficult for most people to give up refined sugar due to the fact that it is addictive. Many people have reported severe sugar withdrawal symptoms, suggesting that it is likely a good idea to gradually wean yourself off of sugar rather than quitting cold turkey.
  • Cut saturated fat: This is a type of fat that contains triglycerides with only saturated fatty acids. Foods with high saturated fats include: cheese, fatty meats, lard, and butter. While healthy fats may improve certain measures of health, there appears to be a negative effect from saturated fat on BDNF.

It appears as though it takes some time for a good or bad diet to affect BDNF. Studies suggest that it can take roughly 2 months before levels increase or decrease in response to diet. Not only was cognitive performance impaired as a result of high refined sugar and saturated fat, but synaptic plasticity and neurotransmitter levels took a plunge.


BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is considered an important protein that influences brain function as well as the peripheral nervous system. BDNF influences a variety of functions including: preventing death of existing brain cells, inducing the growth of new neurons (neurogenesis) and synapses, and supporting cognitive function. Low levels of BDNF are often problematic and have been linked to: Alzheimer’s, accelerated aging, poor neural development, neurotransmitter dysfunction, obesity, depression, and even schizophrenia.

BDNF is one of many neurotrophins in the brain that helps stimulate as well as manage the process of neurogenesis. Although there are a variety of neurotrophins at work in the brain, BDNF is regarded as being among the most active as well as universally important. Therefore maintaining satisfactory levels of BDNF results in optimal neurotransmission and potentially prevents a myriad of physical as well as mental diseases.


To increase DBNF:

  1. Cut sugar and trans fat

2 . Intense Exercise

3. Intermittent Fasting or Caloric Restriction

8 Ways To Increase BDNF Levels (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor)

Is sugar especially bad for people with any sort of mental illness?