The brain uses as much as 50% of your body’s available sugar. Thinking and memory functions are very demanding, requiring correct sugar levels to be effective. When blood sugar drops too low, neurons in the brain can’t communicate. Low enough levels can cause an inability to speak or think, and even loss of consciousness. The effects you feel when your blood sugar is too high are not so obvious, but they are very harmful.
High Sugar Impacts
High sugar is believed to cause a number of problems in the brain — some immediate, and some slow:
- Brain cell accelerated aging
- Memory and thinking impairment
- Small vessel disease
- Shift in regular thinking and idling patterns
- Amyloid placing potential (Alzheimer’s)
Plus, if you have high blood sugar, you may be attempting to control it with medicine, which can then lead to wild swings back to low blood sugar. Older brains may be particularly sensitive to sharp swings in blood sugar, unable to recover as rapidly from them.
Chronic high blood sugar is diabetes, because the body is not succeeding in keeping the blood sugar levels within proper bounds. So studies often look at those with diabetes to understand the brain function impacts of high sugar.
A University of California study found that consumption of fructose speeds the aging of brain cells. A University of Montreal and Boston College co-study showed that excess glucose resulted in memory and thought deficiencies. At the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford, an imaging study, where a device that lets researchers see what areas of the brain are active, showed those with diabetes had difficulty concentrating well. Their brains were working overtime to compensate for another portion of their brain not shutting down properly while doing high concentration tasks.
These studies showed the direct impact of excess sugar on the brain.
Unlike low blood sugar, which can shut down brain function immediately and sharply, the effects of high blood sugar are more subtle. But over the long term, they do great harm. When you are doing a thought-intensive project, you may feel the need for “comfort food” to boost your brain function. If that food provides “easy sugar” and raises your blood sugar too high, you will be doing harm and may not even realize it. If you aren’t diabetic, your “sugar rush” may turn into a sugar depletion as insulin takes the sugar out of your system. Too high or too low — you won’t get optimal concentration and brain function.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, consider the small blood vessels that are so vital to your brain are very susceptible to plaque build up and damage. High blood sugar damages blood vessels. Plaque build up clogs small vessels quickly because it takes very little to block them.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Blood sugar that is not used becomes inflammatory, whenever blood sugar elevates and is not taken into a cell and burned for energy. It not only causes inflammation throughout the body but also feeds all common pathogens, including cancer cells, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. The key is to downscale the carbs and only eat real ones in the form of actual raw vegetables and low glycemic index fruits. What are the best carbs? Raw, uncooked greens: spinach, dandelion, kale, collards, broccoli, just to name a few. It is time to move away from your bread and pasta and sweets if you want a brain and mind useful to you as you age.