More sugar = less brain

I suppose, nobody is doubtless about the fact that excess consumption of food products filled with refined sugars is dangerous for health. However, that aspect is often considered with reference to the risk of development circulatory system diseases, obesity and diabetes. But not that many people realize that “treacly diet” may also influence mental condition by, literally – decreasing the volume of the brain!

Refined sugars and blood sugar disorders

Sugars (both, mono- and disaccharides) are a natural components of our diet. We are well adjusted to digest them when necessary, absorb them and use efficiently or store for “worse times”. Thanks to special buffer mechanisms, our bodies manage the supplied glucose efficiently. The problem is that, since the dawn of history, we have not been exposed to such high doses of sugars as nowadays. As a result, the supply of carbohydrates, especially the refined ones, goes beyond the adaptive abilities of the body, which, connected with low physical activity and badly balanced diet considering the supply of other nutrients, leads to multiple health problems. At first there are:

  • increase of body fat,

  • lipid disorder,

  • blood sugar disorder.

There is scientific evidence that the lifted level of blood glucose is connected with higher risk of development of such diseases, as obesity or diabetes. However, it turns out, that the effects of higher blood glucose may include many systems and organs in the body, also the brain.

Interesting observations

It was observed long time ago, that diabetics are more prone to the risk of dementia and the process called “diminishing brain”. Even few years ago, nobody knew what the main reason for that phenomenon was. The research published some time ago suggests, that the faster pace of degenerative processes within the nervous system is caused by higher blood glucose. What's important, the negative influence of the mentioned sugar is observed not only among diabetics, but also among theoretically healthy people with the level of glucose considered as the upper limit of physiological norm! In other words, the brain can literally shrink in a situation when none of the doctors claim there are any metabolic disorders.

Crucial study

In the precedent research done by a team of Australian scientists, 250 healthy volunteers at the age of 60 to 64 were checked. The researchers decided to measure starving blood glucose among the participants and then do the brain scan. After four years, the measurements were repeated and compared to the previous results. This way the scientists tried to establish, if there is any dependency between blood sugar and neurodegenerative changes. They found out, that among the volunteers with higher, but still normal, level of blood glucose, the process of diminishing brain was far more probable and stronger than among men with low level of blood sugar. As a curiosity, it's worth adding, that the neurodegenerative changes in brain were more visible in cognitive areas, especially: memory and associating, i.e. hippocampus and amygdala.

Conclusions

Our brains shrink with age – it's a fact. The process starts around the third decade of life and lasts until our last days, with different intensity. In practice, we lose averagely 100 thousands of neurons during one day. This process cannot be stopped, but it can be significantly reduced. Proper way of eating and regular physical activity are indispensable in this matter. The influence of these factors is multivariate, but they probably also affect positively blood glucose regulation.