By Michael Gerber, MD, HMD
I didn’t learn about reactive hypoglycemia (low blood sugar induced by eating sugar or refined carbohydrates) until after medical school. On the way across Kansas City to KU Medical school in my junior year I remember every day drinking a large soda with two chocolate cupcakes in the car before early morning rounds and by 9:30 I would become so sleepy and forgetful that I had to go up the residents quarters and take a nap for an hour or so before I could resume functioning. When you eat concentrated sugars like this ( 9 + teaspoons in a small soda) the blood sugar rockets upwards and the body then thinks it has consumed a big meal and secrets a lot of insulin from the pancreas which causes all the sugar to go into the cells of the body and drops the blood sugar quickly. This in turn gives all the symptoms of low blood sugar including memory loss, cognitive difficulty, fatigue confusion, feelings of frustration, inability to concentrate, not to mention apprehension, irritability, lightheadedness, faintness, headache and craving for more sugar. Many people are nibbling on sugar or simple carbohydrates all day long to combat their low blood sugar and brain fog. Let’s not give little Johnny highly sweetened breakfast cereal, orange juice and waffles with syrup before school if we want his brain to work. One of our most difficult patients with an intractable seizure disorder came in to us with a history of drinking six 64 oz. sodas per day and no food. Talk about blood sugar problems! His condition improved greatly when he stopped soda and added protein to his diet.
Although I mention regular white sugar, any kind of sugar can do it especially diet sugar substitutes like aspartame which cause memory loss, drowsiness, sleepiness, headaches, ADD, chronic fatigue, weight gain and just about every neurological symptom in the book. I saw one patient this summer whose MS symptoms melted away after she stopped sugar free gum. A word to the wise, practically all gum has aspartame in it and my MS patient was chewing 6 to 8 sticks per day. Sucralose is tri chlorinated table sugar. Ouch!
In the book by Peter J. d’Adamo, ND, Ph.d, Eat Right for your Type , he proposes that blood type can govern your dietary needs. While not right for everybody it has helped many of my patients. O’s are generally carnivores and do well with meat while A’s tend to run more toward the vegetarian side for favorable energy production. He portends that lectins which are large proteins made when one consumes the wrong food for your blood type clog up the body cells and make it difficult for them process oxygen and blood sugar and hence cause foggy thinking, memory difficulties and chronic illness. Wheat is one of the bad foods for both O’s and A’s. A whole wheat sandwich for lunch can cause sleepiness in many people. It is better to use spelt bread or sprouted grains bread instead.
Of course aging in general slows down brain functioning and I have found many special supplements to sharpen the memory. Acetyl L carnitine allows the brain to work on fats instead of just sugar and is great for memory, mood, energy and anti brain aging. I wouldn’t be without it. We all have heavy metal in us such as mercury, aluminum, lead, arsenic and others. They all have neurological and toxic effects on the body and are terrible for the memory and promote brain fog. There are many strategies to remove metals from the body. Phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, lecithin and their derivatives help make better nerve membranes and brain chemicals like acetylcholine the memory neurotransmitter. All neurotransmitters deteriorate with aging and stress. Replacing neurotransmitter precursors (foods that make brain chemicals) such as the amino acids tryptophan and 5 HTP for serotonin (a natural way to cure depression) and phenylalanine, tyrosine and l-dopa to make norepenephrine and dopamine (awake and alert brain chemicals) work great. They are many brain supportive supplements. IGF-1 from velvet deer antlers, gingko in higher doses, vinpocetine, Gotu Cola, Ginseng, CoQ10, Arginine, Vitamin D and many others are very helpful to prevent brain fog and keep the memory sharp.
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