Improving brain function requires glucose

Too little glucose

Glucose is a sugar which provides energy to every cell in the body. Being the most energy-demanding organ in the body, the brain requires over half of all the glucose we consume. Without glucose, your brain doesn’t have the energy to communicate well with itself or the rest of the body. To try to rebuild a brain low on glucose would be similar to, say, trying to run a marathon after a week of not eating. Your body and brain need glucose energy to run effectively. Just as the body needs food to stay alive, the brain’s cells need glucose to eat to stay alive. Without it, brain cells die. Thankfully, with a little work, we can rebuild connections between existing cells to compensate for those we lose.

Too much glucose

Interestingly, too much glucose can also cause a problem. Sometimes, if we have too much sugar, our pancreas over-reacts by producing so much insulin that the glucose turns into fat before it ever reaches the brain, which decreases the availability of glucose for the brain. Other times, especially if the pancreas is already overloaded, high glucose levels will reach the brain and cause the brain to do more work to lower them to the appropriate levels. This added stress on the brain causes it to be less effective at other tasks while it is trying to regulate its energy levels. (Could also lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, which is related to a blood sugar coma)

Appropriate glucose levels

We want to choose healthy sugars to gain a healthy level of glucose. Refined carbs and sugars offer too much of a good thing to the brain and body, creating a problem. Perhaps ironically, the key to having appropriate glucose in the brain is calorie restriction. Intermittent fasting allows the brain to have the right amount of glucose. Much like a spoiled child, if the brain always has everything provided to it, it never learns to work for itself. A brain and body that is given its needs, but not in excess will learn to work effectively. The body can acquire things on its own, especially when it’s not working hard to get rid of extra things it doesn’t currently need. The body cleverly puts chemicals together to get the substances it needs, such as glucose for the brain. When we give our body only what it needs, it learns to be efficient. For this reason, intermittent fasting is healthy for the brain.

Good summary of what I said. I think I should try to elaborate a bit more. It would be a good idea to share a bit of research both on the role of different healthy foods, as well as the scientific benefits of intermittent fasting. I’ll plan to create something soon.


Joel Fuhrman - eat for life. A book for having appropriate blood sugar and a healthy diet.


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