The brain is the most metabolically active organ in our bodies. It consumes 25% of all the glucose in our blood, yet comprises only 2% of our body weight. Even if a person is given massive doses of phenobarbital and put into a deep comatose state requiring artificial control of the respiratory system to stay alive, the brain is still 50% active. This fantastic stamina leads to extremely high rates of free radical generation and lipid peroxidation. In lieu of this, experts worldwide have realized that all of the neurological diseases seen today (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease etc.) originate from the destruction of one type or another of the brain’s cells, by the aforementioned free radicals and such. Well, this seems logical enough. What is less obvious is that, much like every other part of the body, the brain and all of its components are constantly being replaced and it is during this period of cellular renewal that the nutrients within us are needed. If they’re nowhere to be found though, significant damage to the neuron can take place.
Picture it as construction workers repairing a faulty bridge. If a large number of fantastically energetic and efficient workers put all their collective effort into the task, if they work as a cohesive team, then the bridge will be good as new when their done. If however, only a third of the workers show up and half of them are lazy with no team spirit, then the bridge will not be good as new. Whether the bridge (neuron) is repaired optimally or not depends on the quality and quantity of the workers (nutrients) that are available. This means is that what we eat drastically affects our brain’s chemistry, and so, how we behave.
Most of the brain’s components remain intact and fully functioning for years or even decades before they need replenishing. On the other hand, some of the most important components, like omega-3 fatty acid stores, particularly DHA, are completely used up in about 2 weeks. What must be kept in mind here is that not only do we need a steady supply of this nutrient for a healthy brain, but that nutritional deficiencies, having proven to effect health in complex and exacerbating ways, must be taken seriously. If we eat nothing but donuts, bacon and soda on Monday, having a great big salad on Tuesday will not erase the flood of garbage Monday brought in. Residual problems abound. Today’s food can make or break tomorrow’s mood.
In 1910, Dr. George M. Gould first discussed the close relationship diet has with behavior. About 25 years later, investigators finally picked up on the clues and a clinical frenzy lasting two decades began. From these studies came the discovery of hypoglycemia’s ability to produce symptoms virtually identical to those seen in hysteria, neurasthenia, anxiety neurosis, and even psychosis. Phenomenal proof had been made. The industries that American citizens were feeding billions of dollars to were now feeding them food that promoted insanity. This revelation wouldn’t serve any shareholders too kindly though and as a result, the political and industrial clout of the mid 20th century worked hard to redirect scientific focus.
Interest has rekindled recently and Dr. Russell Blaylock has helped quite a bit. Dr. Blaylock is a retired neurosurgeon and nationally acclaimed author who has done extensive research on the connections between poor diet (food–caused defects in carbohydrate metabolism, artificial flavor consumption etc.) and criminal behavior. By using data compiled from a huge number of studies, from multi-state prison system investigations to EEG readings of felons before and after diet changes, Dr. Blaylock has eloquently proven, once again, nutrition’s profound effects on behavior.
Illustrating just one aspect of this connection is hypoglycemia. It is a known fact that developing chronic low blood sugar (LBS) later in one’s life is primarily the result of poor eating habits; a lot of processed grains, hydrogenated oils and of course, refined sugar. When there is an excess of sugar in the diet, there is an excessive release of insulin, which in turn causes hypoglycemia. Two things happen when the blood’s glucose supply is too low: the adrenal gland releases two hormones, both causing a jittery, nervous feeling very few enjoy; epinephrine and norepinephrine. Then, compounding the situation a bit further, the brain releases a third hormone, serendipitously being the primary neurotransmitter for excitability; glutamate. Forcing the body to continuously go through this hectic cycle just to maintain a steady energy supply is first and foremost exhausting. A person will be hyped one minute and sleeping the next. Their risk for obesity skyrockets and their behavior, as can be imaged, will be erratic and potentially very dangerous.
To avoid the sporadic mood swings making you more of a ticking time bomb than a logical person, to keep yourself out of jail and from becoming obese (neither are very cool these days) just cut out the sugar from your diet. Eat food you can pronounce and do the bulk of the processing yourself, in the kitchen.