Food and the brain. What carbohydrates do for health, thinking and memory

David Perlmutter in Food and Brain and Food and Brain in Practice explains how carbohydrates destroy health. After reading his writings, you will never again treat sugar – the main source of fast carbs – with love. Our ancestors received sugar in fruits for several months of the year (at harvest time) or in the form of honey. But in recent years, sugar has been added to nearly all processed foods. Nature made sugar difficult to obtain – man made it easily available. We will tell you what the increased consumption of carbohydrates leads to from a scientific point of view.

What do spikes in blood sugar levels lead to?

One of the ways that carbohydrates damage the brain is through spikes in blood sugar. When it rises, there is an immediate decrease in the level of neurotransmitters (these are the main regulators of your mood and brain function), such as serotonin, adrenaline, norepinephrine, GABA (an amino acid, the most important inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system in humans and mammals) and dopamine. At the same time, the supply of B vitamins necessary for the production of these neurotransmitters (and several hundred other substances) is completely depleted, as well as the level of magnesium decreases, which creates difficulties for the functioning of the nervous system and liver. Worse, high blood sugar triggers a reaction called glycation. In simple terms, this is the attachment of glucose to proteins and certain fats, which increases the rigidity of tissues, including in the brain. In particular, glucose molecules bind with proteins in the brain and create new deadly structures that cause more damage than any other factor.

The blame for the excess carbohydrate calories lies with sweetened drinks and grains.

Whether it’s pasta, cookies, cakes, bagels, or seemingly healthy whole grain bread, carbohydrates disrupt our brains. Add to this list a potpourri of other high-carbohydrate foods we eat regularly, such as potatoes, fruits and rice, then it’s no surprise that people today are suffering from metabolic disorders and diabetes in so many ways.

What does diabetes lead to

This is important because becoming a diabetic doubles your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Even a pre-diabetic state, when the disease is just beginning to develop, is accompanied by a decrease in brain function, atrophy of the memory center and is an independent risk factor for the full-scale development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease – Healthy Eating. A source

First, if you are insulin resistant, your body is unable to break down the amyloid protein plaque that forms in brain disease. Second, high blood sugar levels trigger biological reactions that cause brain damage. It stimulates the production of oxygen-containing molecules that destroy cells and cause inflammation, which in turn stiffens and narrows the cerebral arteries (not to mention other vessels). This condition, known as atherosclerosis, causes vascular dementia, which develops when blockages in blood vessels and poor circulation kill brain tissue. We tend to think of atherosclerosis in terms of heart health, but brain health is just as dependent on changes in the walls of the arteries.

The most disturbing discovery was made by Japanese researchers in 2011. They examined 1,000 men and women over the age of 60 and found that over 15 years of follow-up, people with diabetes were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 1.75 times as likely to develop other types of dementia. The result did not change even when several factors were excluded, such as age, gender, blood pressure, and body mass index. This documentary evidence that controlling blood sugar levels and reducing risk factors for type 2 diabetes simultaneously reduce the likelihood of developing dementia.

What does increased calorie intake lead to?

Consumption of about 2,000 calories per day for women and 2,550 for men is considered normal (with an increase with higher levels of physical activity). However, a modern person, according to statistics, is strongly outside the boundaries of this norm.

This is largely due to the sugar.

In January 2009, the results of the work of scientists were published, which compared two groups of elderly people – one reduced calorie intake by 30%, and the other was allowed to eat anything and in any quantity. At the end of the three-month study

the group without dietary restriction showed a slight but pronounced decrease in memory function, while the subjects on the low-calorie diet improved memory. Knowing that pharmaceutical approaches to the treatment of brain diseases are very limited, the authors concluded that their “results could help develop

new strategies for the prevention of cognitive health in old age ”. Scientists also note that people with limited caloric intake have a reduced risk of stroke and neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Sugar Brain

Now let’s take a look at what happens when you fill your brain with sugar. We constantly hear about the relationship between sugar and diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, cancer risk, and more. But what is the link between sugar and brain dysfunction?

In 2011, Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories, wrote an excellent article called “Is Sugar Toxic?” The author talks not only about the role of this product in our lives, but also about the development of a scientific understanding of how sugar affects our bodies. In particular, he presents the work of Robert Lustig, a specialist in childhood hormonal disorders and childhood obesity, who argues that sugar is poison. When we get 100 calories of glucose from potatoes, our bodies process and metabolize it differently than when we eat 100 calories of sugar, which is made up of equal parts glucose and fructose. And that’s why.

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The fructose component of sugar is absorbed by the liver. Glucose from other carbohydrates and starches is easily absorbed by all cells of the body. When we consume the “double bundle” (fructose and glucose), we are forcing the liver to work overtime. It is this organ that has to pay for the soda and fruit juices we love so much. A dose of sugar from a sugary beverage is not the same as from a fresh apple. By the way, fructose is the sweetest of all naturally occurring carbohydrates, which explains why we love it so much. However, contrary to what you might think, it has the lowest glycemic index of all natural sugars. The reason is simple: most of the fructose is metabolized by the liver and has no direct effect on blood sugar and insulin. Sugar is another matter: the glucose it contains enters the bloodstream and raises blood sugar levels. But don’t let the seeming “honesty” of fructose fool you. Its regular use, especially from artificial sources, can have long-term consequences: the body’s response to glucose is disrupted, insulin resistance, hypertension, and obesity occur.

The carbohydrates, which cause the biggest spike in blood sugar, cause the most fat storage.

These include refined flour products (breads, cereals, pasta), starches such as rice, potatoes and corn, and liquid carbohydrates such as sodas, beer, and fruit juices. All of them are quickly absorbed, as they flood the bloodstream with glucose and stimulate the release of insulin, which converts excess calories into fat. What about carbohydrates in vegetables? For example, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are high in indigestible fiber, which slows down the absorption process, and as a result, glucose enters the bloodstream much more slowly. In addition, these vegetables contain more water than starch, which is also good. When we eat fresh fruits, water and fiber dilute blood sugar. If you take a peach and a baked potato of the same weight, the potato will raise your blood sugar significantly more than the watery, stringy peach. However, this does not mean that peach, or for that matter, any other fruit, will not cause any problems.

What does excessive fruit consumption lead to?

Our cave ancestors ate fruit, but not every day of the year. And we haven’t evolved enough to handle the huge amounts of fructose we consume today. Fruit juices contain relatively little sugar compared to the huge amount found, for example, in a can of regular soda. To get the same amount of calories from apples as from a small can of Coca-Cola, you will have to juice several fruits and get rid of fiber. But then the fructose enters the liver, and most of it is converted to fat. Not surprisingly, 40 years ago, biochemists named fructose the most obese carbohydrate. The most disturbing fact about our sugar cravings is that when we consume fructose and glucose together (as happens when we eat foods that include table sugar), fructose may not have an immediate effect, but its companion glucose will take care of it. which stimulates the secretion of insulin and alerts the fat cells to get ready to store. These reserves cause fatty degeneration of the liver, but not only it suffers. Hello, the folds at the waist, the overhanging belly and the worst of all invisible visceral fat that envelops our vital organs.

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If the world hadn’t invented cigarettes, lung cancer would be an infrequent disease. Likewise, if we didn’t eat high-carb foods, obesity would be rare. And being overweight leads to many diseases. The good news is that at any time you can switch to a low-carb diet and skip the sugar in pure form and in foods. And the sooner you change your diet and start eating more fat and protein, the easier it is to achieve many positive goals: effortlessly lose weight, achieve sustained increases in energy throughout the day, improved sleep and memory, increased creativity and productivity, faster brain function. and enjoying a better sex life. And all this in addition to protecting the brain.

Based on the books “Food and Brain” and “Food and Brain in Practice”

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