Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sugar: Can't Think Without It!


A major secret of superior brain function is to eat in ways that give your brain cells steady access to desirable levels of blood sugar. Neurons cannot convert fat and protein into glucose. The brain consumes 20-30% of the body’s entire energy, and stores so little glucose that it uses it up in ten minutes if not replenished!

Glucose problems (too little OR too much) adversely affect memory, attention span, concentration, excitability, mood, as well as promote dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Aging brains may need more glucose, as the ability to metabolize it can decline, thus the small storage capacity is decreasing.

Crucial glucose enters the blood mostly from consumption of carbohydrates. The body maintains a certain level of glucose in the blood specifically to serve the brain and central nervous system. Glucose is as much a lifeline as oxygen. It shares the same hazards as both can mutilate and destroy cells. In excess, both can be extremely toxic.


Creating moderate increases in blood sugar generally improves memory and learning. The harder you use your brain, the more important it is to have adequate blood and brain glucose. When your mind is most active, striving, learning, solving problems, you burn more glucose. Replenish it to continue to function at optimum levels.

Non-breakfast-eaters are shown to be twice as apt to be depressed and four times as apt to have anxiety. Find creative paths to sneak your way into becoming a breakfast eater. Even a small breakfast will make a big difference.

Note: I have recently altered this post as I learn more about glucose from Tim Ferriss' book, The 4-Hour Body. You may want to see my blog, This Extra Day, also available on Kindle. On that blog I go into detail about my new food plan and how it is affecting my blood sugar, my brain and my life.

In the 4-Hour Body food plan, breakfast starts with a big hit of protein - within an hour of waking. This is key to flattening out the sugar spikes. So, the adjustment I would make to the following suggestions is to eat two eggs first thing. Ferriss' research shows that people do not eat enough protein in the morning to start the day without going into a cycle of spiking blood sugar.

Other ideas:
Smoked salmon
Black beans and salsa with your eggs


The kind of carbohydrates you eat will determine your outcome. This information has changed so radically in recent years you may have to overcome some beliefs in order to assimilate it.


Interesting findings have emerged regarding combining foods. Vinegar, for example, depresses blood sugar and can save your brain from spikes. Four teaspoons added to an average meal is enough. (Potato salad with vinegar reduces GI 25%). All types of vinegar as well as lemon juice are effective. Acidity is the reason. Lactic acid also helps, which is why yogurt has a low GI even with sugar.

Sugar-damaged proteins turn yellowish-brown and are called advanced glycosylation end products (A.G.E.). The process is similar the browning a chicken where the skin gets crispy. We are all undergoing this browning process as we age. Research shows the main culprit in AGE is high glucose levels in the blood. Simple sugars appear to be the most damaging. A diet consistently high in simple sugars shortens lifespan and increases all the negative outcomes of brain aging.

White flour raises blood glucose faster than ice cream, and white potatoes raise blood glucose faster than pure sugar! Ouch.

HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP is this culture’s most common culprit for the damage from simple sugars. Guess where high fructose corn syrup is most commonly found. You got it. Sodas. Even the “healthy” ones. Check the labels.

Take alpha-lipoic adic (50-100 mlg/day), along with chromium (200 mcg) to help normalize blood sugar.

Sweet blessings to you!
Suzanna Stinnett

Friday, December 10, 2010

Breathing for Brain Restoration

The Breath of Fire increases mental and physical energy – try doing it for two or three minutes.

From a Western perspective, the Breath of Fire – using quick abdominally-focused breaths – is believed to be effective because it stimulates the splanchnic nerves in the abdominal cavity. Stimulation of these nerves causes the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine.

To do this exercise, breathe through your nostrils rapidly – more than one inhalation per second. Do not pause between inhaling and exhaling.

You should inhale by bringing your diaphragm down rather than up. Breathe from your diaphragm, with your chest relaxed. Focus on your navel area.

You might experience a mild feeling of light-headedness. However, this is likely due to increased alertness. Clinical studies have indicated that while the carbon dioxide level in the blood remains normal, the oxygen level actually increases during the Breath of Fire. Other studies indicate that the Breath of Fire produces alpha rhythms in the brain. This is probably why the exercise is able to simultaneously create increased calmness and increased alertness.

This breathing exercise may work by increasing oxygen delivery to the brain, improving neuronal metabolism. The neurons are thereby rejuvenated.

Some people use the Breath of Fire for quick energy in the afternoon—instead of a candy bar or cup of coffee. I’m using it today to relieve my brain fog. It’s the first rainy weekend of the winter, and my body is responding with a serious case of the “sleepies.”

If this breathing exercise does not give me the wakefulness I am looking for, I’ll turn to another tried-and-true brain refresher (and tomorrow’s topic): an afternoon nap.

Best wishes,
Suzanna Stinnett