Sugar rush shrinks brain cell powerhouse (mitochondria)

Sugar rush shrinks brain cell powerhouse (mitochondria)

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Blood Sugar, Neurons, Insulin Sensitivity, Muscles, and Your Health.

Just listened to Dr. Diano shared her study on how sugar impacts neurons in the mitochondria of brain cells. Had to share my notes. As an insulin resistance/blood sugar coach, this topic is important for knowledge and general awareness.

Dr. Diano explained that when there’s an increase of sugar in the blood (i.e., sugar, simple carbs, stress) a subset of just about 5-10K neurons in humans in the mitochondria that are responsible to production of energy, decrease the size of the mitochondria but increase their number…that is, cause a split (more but smaller). Scientists running the study believe, not sure, the issue can become chronic overtime.

So, this mechanism (split/higher # of mitochondria) is extremely important to the cell to sense glucose. If we impair the mechanism, we impair the ability for the animal to regulate glucose in circulation. The mechanism induces an increase of glucose utilization by our muscles. that is, it causes an increase of insulin sensitivity of peripheral organs.

Thus, these neurons regulate the blood sugar by bringing levels down by increasing the insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization by muscles.

So is it ok to keep consuming high levels of sugar? Of course not. Scientists believe that high blood sugar levels may cause the neurons to lose sensitivity/response and break down the protective mechanism above. Ultimately, this could lead a series of problems to eventually metabolic disease such as Type 2. Eventually, such study can be really helpful in the development of new drugs to treat metabolic diseases. 

Food Amount, Food Composition, Neuron Pathways

On a side note, she also commented that AMOUNT and COMPOSITION OF FOODS we eat will affect the neurons, the brain, and metabolic pathways. Speaking specifically of foods high in sugar, processed foods, high in preservatives, additives, and hormones… can eventually be dominating and affect the activity of neurons and induce them to behave in a certain way. This is one of the reasons it is hard to switch diet and our behavior regarding foods in general. Earlier a person is exposed to a bad diet, harder it will be to change. This is especially important for pregnant women. Their diet will directly impact the baby who will be born with a certain imprint and will be stronger to change later on in life. That is, mother diet impacts the future metabolic pathways in the brain as well.

Assuming a mother who grew up eating junk, processed, and sugary foods gets pregnant, doesn’t change the diet, is it possible for the child to change the pathway to a better one? Dr. Diano says it is possible for someone to alter overtime. That is because we are a combination of genetic predisposition and the environment, which is extremely important. Will be very hard? yes but not impossible by introducing new healthy eating habits and new overall lifestyle habits to clean up!

Click here to read summary of her study published by Yale.

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