Forgetful Lately?

Carbohydrates impact brain health.

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In 2012, Australian researchers began a study to determine the impact of sugar on the brain. 249 people in their early 60s had brain scans and were monitored for four years. Brain scans done after four years indicated significant brain shrinkage in those people who had high-normal blood glucose levels.

The shrinkage was found in the amygdala and hippocampus. These two areas of the brain affect memory. The World Health Organization has set a threshold for blood sugar for prediabetes at 110 mg/dL. This is considered high-normal. Doctors become alarmed when fasting blood glucose is over 100 mg/dL. In reality, doctors should be concerned with the fasting blood glucose levels are above 80 mg/dL.

Glucose control can be achieved in many ways. I am an advocate of balanced nutrition with caloric restriction. Balanced nutrition should be accomplished with the least number of calories daily. Blood glucose levels increase with carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, bread, sweets, etc.).

Spinach has one gram of carbohydrates and seven calories per cup. Most of that one gram is composed of insoluble fiber which has little to no effect on increasing blood glucose levels. One slice of white bread has 79 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrates. One slice of white bread has 0.8 grams of fiber – split about equally between soluble and insoluble. The blood glucose response for one slice of white bread is significant.

If my goal is to minimize my total calories and balance my nutrition at the same time, then white bread would not appear on my daily list of foods. The extra nutrients in spinach are vitamins – A, C, K1, Folic Acid, B6, B9 and E; and, minerals – iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium; and, omega 3 and protein. The nutrient content of one slice of white bread is not nearly the same – potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron and protein – all at much lower levels compared to spinach.

Choosing the right foods can control fasting blood glucose levels at or below 80 mg/dL. Changing your diet reduces the blood glucose levels in the brain. Choices have consequences. Choose wisely.


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