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Many studies are cropping up showing the relationship between what we eat and our mental fitness or brain health.
It’s no surprise to any of us that excess sugar is unhealthy – from weight problems to diabetes, excess sugar has a well-deserved ugly reputation. These new findings are a bit of a surprise, however, because few of us even suspected the harm sugar could have on the brain.
These studies now allow us to see that added sugars actually change our brain in a very negative way. The researchers found that 734 hypothalamic genes were altered as well as 206 hippocampal genes.
These genes govern separate but extremely important areas of the brain:
- cell metabolism
- cell communication
- overall brain function.
To say that these genes are vital is an understatement.
According to The Health and Sciences Academy, “…certain alterations can lead to leptin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, depression, and bipolar disorder.”
However, this same study found that Omega-3 oil DHA (found in fish, fish oil supplements, and some egg & dairy products) “has the potential to normalize the genomic impact of fructose.” So, including enough DHA in your diet can help to offset the damaging changes caused by the added sugars.
A Few Actionable Tips:
- While you don’t have to get obsessive about avoiding sugar, simply try to cut back on the amount of sugar you add to foods and drinks. For example, if you normally drink sweet tea, try adding fresh fruit to your tea instead of sugar. Frozen peaches and frozen raspberries allowed me to break a sweet tea addiction I’d had for years. Also, try to forgo sugar in your morning coffee. You actually taste the coffee, itself, much better and it’s a beautiful thing.
- We know that blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are excellent for your brain’s health. Start using these delicious, naturally sweet berries in smoothies – if you’re like me, you’ll come to love them even more than milkshakes.
- Stay clear of artificial sweeteners. The dangers of these “sweeteners” are really just coming to a head, and they may do even more harm than sugar.
- Fruit does not count as added sugar – although many juices do due to added sugar. In fact, when a sugar craving hits, reach for fruit. The only thing your brain knows is that it’s delicious.. it’s liable to think you’re eating dessert!
Make each moment count double! ~ Joi
Did you know that certain (very popular) over-the-counter drugs can actually shrink your brain?! See Common Drugs that Can Shrink the Brain for more information. You’ll also find safer alternatives to turn to instead.