Sugar and Your Brain
Your Brain hates Sugar. Really. It hates it. Not just the white crystals that you add to your coffee but ALL foods that are broken down quickly to Sugar in your Body. That includes things that many of us eat every day which we don’t even think are sweet – such as bread, potatoes and pasta.
These are all High Glycemic foods. This means that they will convert to Glucose (the digested form of sugar that we have in our bloodstream) too rapidly for your Body to burn and this increases the amount of Sugar in your bloodstream.
Make no mistake this is a crisis situation for your Body. It has to remove the Sugar as quickly as possible to limit the damage that it will do. It floods your Body with a hormone called Insulin which allows the sugar into your cells where it can be safely locked away – as fat. So your blood sugar level then becomes too low and sends you running for food to raise it up again. (Kind of ironic then that all the low fat products that we buy are loaded with Sugar in place of the fat – making us fatter and hungrier).
If you want a Happy Brain you need to provide it with a steady energy supply. Stop eating Sugar and all foods that are digested into Sugar too quickly for your Body to use – the High Glycemic foods. Every time you eat them you are damaging your Brain by creating this surge in blood sugar that disrupts its energy supply. Your Brain is extremely sensitive to your Blood Sugar/Insulin level.
Current research suggests that the lower you keep this over your Lifetime, the healthier you will be.
High Glycemic Foods and Nutrition
High Glycemic foods are the least nutritious foods that we eat. Grains have such low nutrients that most cereal products have artificial vitamins added to them. Processed sugar has zero nutrients. They steal your Brain friendly B vitamins just to be digested. They also deplete your stores of Brain friendly Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is now said to be the most common nutritional deficiency in Western diets.
High blood sugar also depletes your Brain’s supply of ‘BDNF – Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor’. This is the chemical that protects your Brain cells and creates new ones.
High Glycemic foods cause massive amounts of Inflammation in your Body and Brain – they cause a process called Glycation to take place. This means that the sugar molecules get tangled up with the proteins and fats in your Body and Brain – making them unnaturally rigid. This literally ages you.
Because you can’t see or feel the Inflammation that they cause it can be easy to ignore it until you are feeling old and ill. If you need something you can see to make this feel real to you, take a look at the skin of someone over 40 who has eaten a diet of High Glycemic foods – the sagging, the wrinkles, the change in colour – it’s all down to the damage produced by glycation. It does bad things to your skin.
One of the best benefits that I noticed once I got off my high-sugar diet was that my wrinkles started to diminish and I no longer burn the instant the sun hits my skin. My eyes are also much clearer and sparkle more – glycation is also responsible for cataract formation.
Still not convinced? Sugars feed the bad bacteria in your gut so that the bad guys start to outnumber the good guys. The bad guys create harmful toxins which can pass through your gut wall and into your Brain (the good ones create vitamins). They can hijack your immune system (which is mostly situated around your gut) and they turn on the bad genes in your DNA. Sugars also feed tumours.
In fact the Diseases of Civilisation (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, asthma etc – and the symptoms of Unhappy Brains – Alzheimers, Dementia, Anxiety, Panic etc) only appear after the population starts to eat High Glycemic food – ie they include sugar and grains in their diet. Because High Glycemic foods – the quick burning carbs – are very rare in nature. Our ancestors didn’t eat pasta or bread, sugar or flour. They just weren’t available.
Reduce Sugars To Make Your Brain Happy
The bottom line is this. You cannot have a Happy Brain whilst you are messing around with its Energy Supply. And you cannot have a steady Energy Supply whilst you are eating foods that digest faster than you can burn them. It’s not something that most of us want to hear. Most of us have a sweet tooth. (Is sugar addictive? | Signs You May Be Addicted To Sugar) But the rewards that you get from giving up your ‘treats’ will make it worth it. The quality of your Life depends on the quality of your Brain.