The Importance Of Blood Sugar To The Brain17 Jul 2021
You are probably aware of the health problems caused by excess sugar: diabetes, obesity, tooth decay and coronary artery disease.
But are you aware of how sugar levels affect your brain?
Our brain needs sugar to function
The human brain is a complex system consisting of billions of neurons and nerve cells. It’s our body’s control centre that performs multiple functions, including regulating our hormones, breathing, body temperature and sleep cycle. It also processes information relating to our taste, touch, sight, hearing and more.
Because of this, the brain requires more energy than any other organ in the human body and relies on glucose (sugar) as its main source of fuel. The neurons in our brain can’t store energy, so they need a continuous supply of fuel from the bloodstream to function correctly.
Your ability to think, learn and recall information is closely linked with your glucose levels. When your levels are low, these abilities get inhibited as the production of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters is reduced and communication between neurons is disrupted.
What happens when you feed your brain too much sugar
Your brain relies on sugar to operate, but when you feed it too much, you will crave more and more.
High sugar foods give your brain a huge surge of a feel-good chemical called dopamine, which can have a drug-like effect and lead to sugar addiction in the long term.
Excess sugar can wreak serious havoc on your brain, causing mental health issues, decreased cognitive function, memory impairment and even dementia. Not to mention the physical havoc it can cause by increasing the risk of diseases such as diabetes, fatty liver and cancer.
How to protect your brain from sugar damage
It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels under control to protect your brain.
Cut down on refined carbs and foods with a high Glycemic Load (a measurement on how quickly a food type will raise your blood glucose).
Increase your intake of fibre, protein and healthy fats, as these slow down how quickly glucose enters your bloodstream. Avoid or reduce alcohol consumption. Switch to healthier snacks and keep sweet treats to a minimum.
Don’t forget to also get regular exercise, and have your blood sugar level tested at least once a year.
Remember, sugar is not our brain's (or our body’s) enemy - excess sugar is.
To help our brains function for as long and efficiently as possible, it’s important to manage our glucose levels with a healthy diet.
We also strongly recommend securing your brain health further with a comprehensive critical illness protection plan such as Gibraltar BSN’s GoXtra Care, which provides coverage for early, intermediate and advanced stage critical illness care for more than 150 critical illness conditions. Find out more here.