Meet Your Local Care Team


Find a Job →
Google+

How to Protect Your Brain from Sugar Damage

smarties candy

Protect your brain from sugar damage by cutting the toxic white powder from your diet. High blood sugar levels may cause brain damage. When you eat a diet high in simple sugars and carbohydrates you are putting your brain at risk for damage. Chronic high blood sugar levels have links to:

  • Diabetes
  • Poor memory
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • Dementia

Eating foods with added sugar is bad for your brain and your body. It is recommended by the World Health Organization to limit your total sugar intake to 10% of your diet. If you are eating 1800 calories a day only 180 calories should be sugar.

Is the answer to just cut out sugar? It may sound like a simple solution but is not that easy. Reducing the amount of sugar you eat is a good place to start. But this can be a slow adjustment to make if you are hooked on sweet foods.

The ideal scenario would be to completely remove refined sugar from your diet. Refined sugar offers no nutritional value. You get a bit of sweetness in exchange for significant damage to your brain. Science has even shown that eating sugar can cause dementia. But removing sugar from your diet is one of the best ways to get more energy as you age and improve your overall health.

There are a few other key ideas to help lower your blood sugar levels and protect your brain from the effects of sugar.

1. Reduce Refined Carbohydrates and Your Glycemic Load

Sugar is not the only food that your body will turn into glucose. Foods that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream can cause:

  • Spikes in blood sugar
  • Increased insulin levels

Unless a food is in its natural whole state, it is a refined carbohydrate.

Refined carbohydrates often are made of:

  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Flour
  • Starch

The Glycemic index is a way to measure how quickly a carbohydrate will raise your blood glucose. A high glycemic index food will raise your blood sugar quickly.

Glycemic load is another measure that looks at how food affects your blood sugar. The glycemic load is based on the average portion size of the food you eat. This will give you a better idea of the effect food has on your blood sugar.

Glycemic load gives you an idea of which foods you can eat more of without spiking your blood sugar levels. To keep your blood sugars stable you want to avoid (or limit) refined carbohydrates. These include:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Processed grains
  • Fruit Juice
  • Sweetened drinks
  • Desserts

2. Increase Whole Foods

man in chef hat with veggies

When you reduce refined carbohydrates in your diet, you may not know what to eat. The best idea is to start by replacing a refined carbohydrate with a whole food.

If you usually have a bowl of cereal for breakfast, try replacing half of the cereal with blueberries. If you enjoy pasta for supper, replace half the pasta with thin slices of zucchini.

You will get more nutrition to your brain when you include healthier whole foods in your diet. Refined carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes. Whole foods will include:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Fats

These slow down how quickly the glucose enters your bloodstream.

Think of one food that you eat that is high in sugar. Or a food that is a refined carbohydrate. Plan to replace it with:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Greens like spinach, kale, collards
  • Berries
  • Vegetables

It is important that you eat a protein and healthy fat with every meal to regulate your blood sugar levels.

Read: Experts Rank the 6 Best Diets for Heart Health

3. Exercise Often

man and woman running across a finish line

Your activities are just as important as what you eat. Exercise has been proven to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Regular exercise will help your muscles to use the glucose in your blood.

Exercise also helps increase your blood flow to the brain. This helps your brain get the necessary oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. Aerobic activity helps your body to use insulin better. Strength training increases your cells sensitivity to insulin. Increased muscle mass also lowers your blood sugar.

The American Diabetes Association recommends regular exercise. That means 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week. Strength training should be done at least twice a week.

Read: Fit at 50? Dementia Risk Low Among Very Fit Women

4. Discover Your Insulin Resistance Level

Insulin resistance affects up to half of North Americans. Insulin resistance can be a risk factor in dementia. You can change your insulin resistance level.

Talk to your health care provider about testing your blood levels for :

  • Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Triglyceride
  • HDL cholesterol

You can keep a food diary for a week to see how much sugar and refined carbohydrates you eat. Choice one or two things each day to cut back on. Remove one source of sugar and replace it with a whole food. An ideal goal would be to have 20 grams or less of sugar per meal.

If you have insulin resistance you can change that by what you eat. Insulin resistance levels can be changed within weeks simply by changing what you eat.

It is never too late to make a healthy choice. Your nutrition impacts brain health. Use these ideas to jumpstart your health. You can protect your brain from sugar damage.

Resources:

  1. Avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease Could Be Easier Than You Think
  2. Why “Whole Grains” May Not Be As Health For You As You Think
  3. Diagnosis Diet: Refined Carbohydrate List
  4. Glycemic Index and Diabetes
About The Author

Crystal Jo is a Registered Nurse who is passionate about helping older adults live happy, healthy lives at home. As a freelance writer, she enjoys educating and inspiring seniors, and those who love them, to choose a healthy life.

Comments are closed.