So what does blood sugar have to do with your brain? Glucose is the brain’s fuel source. Making sure you have stable blood sugar is vital to healthy, balanced brain chemistry, and the prevention of neurodegeneration. When blood sugar is unstable – as in low blood sugar for example – not enough glucose gets to the brain, causing it to degenerate and not function well.
With hypoglycemia, when your blood sugar drops too low, your brain isn’t getting enough fuel. When it is deprived of fuel it stops functioning well, causing feelings of dizziness, shaking, headache, and difficulty concentrating. Hypoglycemia is also often linked with adrenal fatigue, a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that helps us cope with stress. It is also responsible for raising blood sugar levels when they drop too low, as they do in hypoglycemia. However, when cortisol levels are low the body is not able to boost blood sugar up to a healthy level. When this happens you get the symptoms of feeling shakey, light-headed, spaced out and irritable.
Insulin Resistance, the other end of the blood sugar spectrum, is a condition in where the blood sugar is chronically too high. This often results from a diet high in carbohydrates – sugars, sweets, potatoes, corn, grains, beans, and other sugars that can send blood sugar levels soaring. In response, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to carry the sugar out of the bloodstream and into the body’s cells, and to convert it into fat for storage. When this happens repeatedly, the cells develop a resistance to the constant surge of insulin and refuse it entry. As a result, too much glucose and insulin circulate throughout the bloodstream causing inflammation, skewing hormones, and throwing off neurotransmitter balance, all of which lead to rapid degeneration of the brain.
Below are some tips to help you keep your blood sugar balanced.
Eating to Balance your Blood Sugar and Boost your Brain Health
- Eat a breakfast of high quality protein and fat.
- If you have hypoglycemia, eat a small amount of protein every two to three hours. This does not mean eat a full meal every 2-3 hours – a few bites will do. The point is to keep your blood sugar stable and leave the adrenals out of the picture.
- Find your carbohydrate tolerance and stick to it. How many grams of carbohydrates should you each day? I follow this simple rule: If you feel sleepy or crave sugar after you eat, you have eaten too many carbs.
- Never eat high carb foods without some fiber, fat or protein. These will slow down the rate at which the glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream and help with “insulin shock”.
- Do not eat sweet or starchy foods before bed. Chances are your adrenals will kick into action, creating restless sleep or that 3 a.m. wake up with anxiety or hunger.
- Avoid all fruit juices and carrot juice. These can be more sugary than soda, and will quickly have you crashing.
- Avoid or limit caffeine. Blood sugar imbalances are hard enough on the adrenal glands. Adding in adrenal stimulants fatigue them more.
- Eat a well-balanced diet consisting mostly of vegetables, and quality meats and fats (or other protein if you’re a vegetarian). A diet of junk food, fast foods, and other processed foods works against you. To restore your brain health you must find ways to restore your diet closer to what our ancestors ate. A diet dominated by leafy, green vegetables and adequate in quality protein and fats is enormously restorative.
- Eliminate food allergens and intolerances. Whenever a food creates an immune response, such as an allergy or intolerance, it also creates blood sugar instability and insulin surges. Common food intolerances are to gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy and yeast. Eating these foods can create sugar cravings and fatigue after meals. To stabilize blood sugar and promote brain health, problem foods should be eliminated and the gut repaired.
If you would like a individualized diet plan created for you, please make an appointment with our clinic today!