People have been at the mercy of sugar and oxygen all their lives because of the plan that nature made millions of years ago, says Jean Carter. How much people understand these two elements and how people treat these elements depends on the function of human cells, including nerve cells, and human sensitivity to the destructive effects of aging and diseases that can “steal” the human brain.
3 rules about blood sugar (glucose) and the human brain:
1. For optimal brain function, try to maintain a normal blood glucose level. Too high or too low blood glucose levels impair mental function.
2. Fluctuations in blood glucose affect cognitive function and human mood (the ways people think and feel). The amount of glucose in the blood changes memory, learning ability and mood. It affects human susceptibility to diabetes, arterial damage, stroke, dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
3. People have a lot of influence on the changes in blood glucose levels through diet. Carbohydrates (starch and sugar) have the greatest direct impact on the production of glucose that feeds the brain.
The results of the research indicate that abnormally high or low blood sugar levels can impair memory and the ability to learn. Spouses Dr. Paul Gould and Dr. Donna Gould are pioneers in this field of science. They are employees of the University of Virginia and the University of Binghamton / New York. In a series of experiments on animals and humans, they showed that blood sugar levels are crucial for human memory (the ability to store some information and later recall it in every period of life, especially in the elderly). Too little (and too much) blood sugar makes it difficult to remember. How the jump in sugar (after the intake of carbohydrates in the body) affects the brain depends on several factors – says Dr. Gould. These are: the existing level of glucose in the blood, the level of stress (stress hormones raise the level of glucose in the blood), and individual glucose tolerance. For example, stress tends to increase glucose levels. Therefore, consuming large amounts of carbohydrates during times of severe stress (for example, before the exam) could increase blood glucose levels more than when you are not under stress, says Dr. Gould.
One of Dr. Gould’s key findings is that when blood sugar rises moderately it generally improves memory and learning. Why this is so is not yet entirely clear. Dr. Gould’s research indicates that elevated blood sugar signals the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is known to help regulate memory and learning. Glucose injected into mice causes an increase in acetylcholine only when the animals are stimulated while learning new information (not when they are quietly in their cage). The same thing obviously happens with students, Dr. Gould notes.