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Soft Drinks – Glucose – And Your Brain

February 1, 2013

Soft DrinksGlucose is the form of sugar that travels in your bloodstream to fuel the mitochondrial furnaces responsible for your brain power. Glucose is the only fuel normally used by brain cells. Because neurons cannot store glucose, they depend on the bloodstream to deliver a constant supply of this precious fuel.

This blood sugar is obtained from carbohydrates: the starches and sugars you eat in the form of grains and legumes, fruits and vegetables. (The only animal foods containing a significant amount of carbohydrates are dairy products.)

Too much sugar or refined carbohydrates at one time, however, can actually deprive your brain of glucose – depleting its energy supply and compromising your brain’s power to concentrate, remember, and learn. Mental activity requires a lot of energy.

When levels of circulating glucose drop, the initial sugar-high turns into an energy crisis for your brain. (Neurons cannot store glucose, like body cells can.) An hour or two after drinking a sugary soft drink, you feel the need for another boost.

What Happens in Your Body When You Have a Soft Drink
Your fasting blood glucose level should be somewhere around 100 milligrams per deciliter. That’s one gram of blood sugar per liter of blood, which translates into only about five grams (a teaspoon) of sugar in circulation throughout your entire bloodstream.

Let’s say you suck down the typical non-diet soft drink that contains ten times that amount of sugar, which is then quickly absorbed and enters into your bloodstream. Sensors in your brain’s hypothalamus will instruct your pancreas to secrete insulin, which causes the cells in your body to pull this overload of glucose out of your bloodstream and store it for later use.

Even when blood sugar levels are again normalized, insulin levels can remain high, because your liver may be unable to remove the circulating insulin fast enough.

In addition, drinking carbonated soft drinks decreases the amount of pure water a person consumes, which can lead to dehydration that depletes the brain and other organs of fluids. (The brain contains a high percentage of water.)

Soda and Vitamin Deficiencies – Study
What’s more, drinking large quantities of soda can lead to deficiencies in several important vitamins and minerals. Soda drinkers [are] less likely to get the recommended levels of vitamin A or calcium, and were at increased risk of magnesium deficiency. Sugar depletes magnesium, and the high levels of phosphoric acid in soft drinks can combine with calcium and magnesium in the gut to cause a loss of these vital minerals.

Liquid Candy-Soda Statistics
In 1998, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) published a report titled ” Liquid Candy : How Soft Drinks are Harming Americans’ Health.” A Washington-based nonprofit education and advocacy organization, CSPI focuses on improving the safety and nutritional quality of our food supply. Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., writes:

“Teenage girls consume only 60% of the recommended amount of calcium, with soda-pop drinkers consuming almost one-fifth less calcium than non-drinkers. It is crucial for females in their teens and twenties to build up bone mass to reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life….

“Obesity rates have risen in tandem with soda consumption. Soft drinks provide 10.3% of the calories consumed by overweight teenage boys, but only 7.6% of the calories consumed by other boys. The National Institutes of Health recommends that people trying to lose or control their weight should drink water instead of soft drinks with sugar.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that consumption of soft drinks has increased 500% in the last 50 years. During this time, childhood obesity in the U.S. jumped 54% for 6-11 year-olds, and 40% for adolescents.

This boom in childhood obesity could lead in adulthood to a sharp rise in strokes, heart disease, and other vascular-related illnesses. In an ultrasound study of 48 severely obese children, French researchers at the Necker Enfants-Malades Teaching Hospital observed a general decline in function of the lining of the children’s arteries, including a loss of vascular elasticity.

Source: http://www.fi.edu/learn/brain/carbs.html#top

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