Brain Health

November 11, 2010

Scientific data has linked excess sugar consumption to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes for decades. Recent studies expand the negative effects of refined sugar consumption to brain health!  This research indicates that good blood sugar levels are particularly important for memory-building. This is because high blood sugar levels affect  a part of the brain critical to learning and memory - the dentate gyrus, which is located in the hippocampus -  that contributes to new memories as well as other functional roles. The dentate gyrus has high rates of new growth in adults, it is through this growth that our memories are built. Nutrition and exercise are the keys to controlling your sugar levels.  A 2001 study evaluating exercise in women 65 years and older found that for each mile walked per day, there was 13% lower odds of development or progression of mental decline. Additionally, for every 1,700 calories spent actively exercising there was a 14% decline of the risk.  It is important to note that these studies indicate that protection afforded by exercise only occurs with regular exercise.  Higher levels of exercise, at least 3 times or more per week had a higher benefit. Recently, the Heart Association recommended that most women should limit their sugar intake to 100 calories, or about six teaspoons a day, while men should limit their intake to 150 calories or nine teaspoons.  In the age of processed foods, this is particularly challenging.  A 12-ounce serving of cola has approximately 130 calories -- 8 teaspoons of sugar!  In fact a nutritional survey that spanned from 2001 to 2004 indicates that Americans consume an average of 355 calories, more than 22 teaspoons of sugar each day! Think about replacing refined sugar with naturally occurring sweeteners!  There are several available and more are reaching the market every day:
  • Honey.  Much of the honey available in grocery stores is highly processed.  It's still the better choice of honey and refined sugar,  but consider purchasing raw honey at your local health food store.  It has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities and causes a lower rise in blood sugar.  However, it has higher caloric content than table sugar, so use sparingly.
  • Cinnamon. Cinnamon increases the sweetness of baked goods, reducing the need for refined sugar. It's naturally occurring, tastes great, has numerous health benefits, and has only six calories per teaspoon. As a bonus, cinnamon regulates blood sugar by slowing how fast the stomach empties of food after eating, reducing blood sugar spikes. Count cinnamon as one of the healthiest sugar substitutes!
  • Maple syrup or sugars. Maple syrup is high in manganese and zinc and lower in sodium than honey. The syrup also has 15 times more calcium than honey.
  • Date sugars.  Made from ground, dried dates, these sugars are full of calcium, phosphor, magnesium and essential vitamins.
  • Fruits.  If there's an ideal way to satisfy that sweet tooth, fresh fruit can't be beat!
Increasing longevity and the aging of the baby boom population has turned cognitive decline into a major health care crisis and concern.  There's not time like the present to take steps to insure your life-long brain health!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Peters Principles Community 2

Heading Off Osteoarthritis

April 17, 2014

Nearly all of us will come down with osteoarthritis at some point in our lives. That's why a good prevention strategy is key!

Read More

Fitness Pays Off!

April 10, 2014

It's spring and many of us are striving for our personal peak in physical fitness. Whether we want to look better, to feel better, or to fulfill a personal goal, the fact is, exercise effects a lot more than our waistlines!

Read More

This Week with Peter Nielsen

April 10, 2014

This Week with Peter Nielsen

Read More

GET MY NEWSLETTER

KEEP HEALTHY FOR LIFE