Your Brain on Processed Food

I want to talk with you today about how some of commonly eaten foods are affecting your brain, hormones, blood sugar, and inflammation.
And speaking about inflammation, in September I’ll be co-hosting a free online class on Natural Solutions to Inflammation with Maverick Chiropractic & Wellness. You can find the details and sign up link here.



Let’s begin our discussion with breakfast foods. Many common breakfast foods are processed and resemble dessert–not a great way to start your day!

Ideally, when you break your fast, you eat something nutrient-dense and rich in protein and fiber. A solid meal like that will suppresses ghrelin, the hunger hormone, so it decreases the likelihood of overeating throughout the day. 
 

The Danger of Processed Foods

As I mentioned, many common convenience breakfast foods are ridiculously high in sugar. 
 
Instant oatmeal, many cereals, granola bars, fruit yogurt smoothies, protein bars–while fast and cheap, are all laden with sugar.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has 16 grams per serving (that’s 4 teaspoons!). 
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks is 56% sugar.  According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, children especially are on sugar overload–they get half of their daily average intake of sugar at breakfast. That’s huge! An 8 oz glass of orange juice has 26 grams of sugar–a little over 6 teaspoons!
 
And it starts in childhood for many of us. According to the American Heart Association, kids are to be limited to 3-4 teaspoons of added sugar per day. But in a typical American breakfast, especially in schools, it gets extremely high up to 11 teaspoons.

How do processed sugary breakfasts affect your brain?

Well the damage starts in childhood if that’s when the habits start.
Sugar captivates your brain’s reward center like cocaine does. So as kids we get hooked on sugar early. That’s why we are seeing an increase in type 2 diabetes and liver diseases in children.
 
Dietary sugar is made up of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Glucose is converted into energy, so we can sustain our biological functions, or deposited as fats to be used at a later time. Fructose can also be an energy source, however, there’s no biochemical reaction in the body that requires fructose. But here’s what you need to know: Fructose is metabolized in the liver similarly to alcohol. This is the reason why, when fructose is taken in huge amounts, it can be as toxic as alcohol. Even without any alcohol consumption, you can develop diseases typical of alcohol abuse such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.
 
The intestines and liver usually clear the majority of fructose, but with huge amounts, fructose can get into the brain and alter brain metabolism. Fructose gets into the astrocytes, the cells that nourish the neurons (brain cells), and cause glycation and oxidative stress–two of the eight subcellular pathologies of metabolic disease.
In addition to that, fructose disrupts two growth factors that help the brain develop and organize connections. These are leptin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
 
Leptin is a hormone that comes from fat tissues and is known as the satiety hormone because it helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance. But aside from that, leptin has an important role in brain function and cognition.
 
BDNF works in the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, by laying new connections.
 
If this is how fructose works in the brain, then we shouldn’t wonder why high sugar diets and processed foods create symptoms like brain fog, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating.
 

What should you do?

First off, reduce both sugar and fructose in your diet.  Here are some recipes to help you out. If eggs don’t appeal to you, opt for unsweetened Greek yogurt (many dairy free options these days). Or skip traditional breakfast foods and opt for a meal more closely resembling a healthy lunch or dinner. 

You can choose options that are convenient AND healthy. If doesn’t have to be one or the other. Your health depends on it.

Also, the damaging effects of fructose can be counteracted by consuming Omega 3, which can be found in fish, seafood, nuts and seeds, and other foods.

These changes can make a huge difference in your health and well-being. After all, your health is your greatest wealth.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca

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