FebFast – Make this month matter!

brainTake a break from alcohol, sugar, caffeine and digital overload this month because you deserve to give your brain health a kick start.

Food substances and brain health

Many people find it surprising that what you eat can actually damage your brain. Have you ever heard someone say: “You are what you eat?” The thing is that it is valid argument and a great part of who you are comes from your brain.  Let’s have a look at the effects that certain food substances has on brain health.

Alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are made up of many different substances, but the main substance that has the potential of damaging our brains is ethanol. The relaxing and euphoric effects of this psycho-active substance cause people to enjoy such beverages. Short term and long term alcohol use could have drawbacks for your brain health. Your brain cells will potentially degenerate and brain dysfunction is very likely to follow. [1]

Sugar

The sugar (sucrose) we use in our diets is made up of glucose and fructose and in our bodies, our blood glucose levels are regulated by two hormones.

  • Insulin: lowers blood sugar levels
  • Glucagon: raises blood glucose levels

Our bodies have less control over fructose and this is where the trouble starts. If our blood glucose levels are in excess, the glucose is changed into glycogen which is a storage form of glucose in the muscles and the liver and from there it may even be converted into fat, again for storage.

Fructose however, can be directly converted into fat and this may cause damage at any particular site. Also, if you eat too much sugar for too long, your body may become resistant to insulin and your brain health could be in severe jeopardy. [2]

Why do our brains need rest?

Sleep plays a major role in brain health and sleep disruption has an impact on cognitive functioning and brain recovery. It is of cardinal importance that we get some shut-eye during every 24 hour (or circadian) cycle.

Sleep disruption after traumatic brain injuries range from metabolic disturbances and compromised blood brain barrier (BBB) to brain cell degeneration and it may also have an impact on neuroplasticity.

Experts advise at least 6-7 hours of sleep per night and they believe that proper sleeping habits may postpone or slow down the onset of neuropsychiatric, neuro-traumatic and neurodegenerative disorders. [3][4]

To summarise

It is highly advisable to give your brain the treatment it so desperately deserves. I mean think about it our brains are basically the computers of our bodies and they are at work 24/7. Listen to your body: stay away from sugar and energy drinks containing caffeine, dim your lights for a while before counting those sheep and try to stick to regular sleeping patterns to support the health of your brain and become a refreshed version of yourself!

References:

  1. Oscar-Berman M, Marinković K. Alcohol: effects on neurobehavioral functions and the brain. Neuropsychology review. 2007 Sep 1;17(3):239-57.
  2. Tomlinson DR, Gardiner NJ. Glucose neurotoxicity. Nature reviews. January 2008; vol. 9: 36-45.
  3. Lucke-Wold BP, Smith KE, Nguyen L, Turner RC, Logsdon AF, Jackson GJ, Huber JD, Rosen CL, Miller DB. Sleep disruption and the sequelae associated with traumatic brain injury. Neuroscience & Bio-behavioural Reviews. 2015 Aug 31;55:68-77.
  4. Farooqui AA. The Effects of Diet, Exercise, and Sleep on Brain Metabolism and Function. Inflammation and Oxidative Stress in Neurological Disorders 2014 (pp. 1-42). Springer International Publishing.