REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF ADDED SUGAR!
BRAIN HEALTH | 1.11.2016 | BY DAYA ALEXANDER GRANT, PH.D., M.S.
Ok, now that the holidays have passed, and everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to be healthy, let’s talk about sugar.
Sugar exists in many forms, but can be simplified into two categories: 1) Natural, 2) Added.
Natural sugar occurs naturally in foods, such as fruit and unsweetened milk, and is critical for our brain health. Here’s why: As we know, brain cells (neurons) require energy to function. This energy comes in the form of glucose, which the body extracts from simple carbohydrates, such as natural sugar. Therefore, natural sugar provides the fuel required for the brain to function.
Added sugar, on the other hand, can negatively affect the brain. Specifically, it reduces a very important neurochemical called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is required for learning and memory, and reduced levels of BDNF have been correlated with Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
To make matters worse, added sugar has been refined into crystals, so that it’s easier to add to foods. Unfortunately, this process is so extensive that it strips the raw sugar of all nutrients, rendering it devoid of vitamins, minerals, fiber or enzymes. Put simply: refined sugar has zero nutritional value.
Bottom line: Natural sugar is good, but added sugar is not so good. Our modern diet is saturated with added sugar, so take matters into your own hands and cut back. Keep it simple and start small, by drinking one less soda, sports drink, or pastry each week. Your brain and your body will thank you.