Glucose and Your Brain
The brain thrives on glucose. In fact, glucose is the only fuel the brain cells can use, which makes your this organ quite the glucose hog. Studies have shown that during rest, the brain consumes more than two thirds of the carbohydrates circulating in the blood. In order to satisfy this need, your body must constantly convert carbohydrates into glucose.
Have you ever felt tired after studying or concentrating for an extended period of time? This sensation is not just your imagination. Though you may be sedentary, your body is rapidly burning glucose to fuel this mental activity.
Recent research shows that prolonged concentration actually drains glucose from a vital area of the brain associated with memory and learning. Taking this into consideration, one can easily understand how critical adequate blood sugar is for proper brain function.
Brain cells that communicate with one another, known as neurons, constantly need energy because they’re always in a state of metabolic activity.
But this doesn’t mean you have to constantly eat in order to feed your brain. Carbohydrates that your body doesn’t use immediately following a meal are stored in the form of glycogen, a long string of glucose molecules linked together.
Feed Your Brain Right!
Just how vital is food to your brain function? If the results of several studies are any indication, food—and carbohydrates in particular—is extremely vital.
According to Dr. Carol Greenwood, eating foods high in carbohydrates “can improve memory within an hour after ingestion in healthy elderly people.“
In one study, Dr. Greenwood had a group of healthy senior citizens eat of bowl of cereal with milk and a glass of white grape juice for breakfast. A control group only drank water.
Those who ate cereal remembered 25 percent more than the control group when tested twenty minutes after eating.
Another study shows that eating when you first wake up in the morning can aid your memory, and that carbohydrates create longer lasting memory benefits than either fats or proteins.
Again, the study was conducted by Dr. Greenwood, who said this shows the need for breakfasts that include nutritious carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Donuts and pastries, she continued, should not be eaten first thing in the morning (although they may provide a good excuse should you mess up at work before noon!).