Friday, February 16, 2018

High-fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

High-fructose corn syrup is relatively less expensive than sugar or honey so the food industry loves it. According to some sources, HFCS can be found in a plethora of products including Stove Top stuffings, some Frappuccino’s, cough syrup, cottage cheese, baked beans, and so on. The food industry would like consumers to believe that there’s no problem with HFCS. Research studies reveal a different opinion. Some studies have indicated that HFCS may increase inflammation in the brain and body and may contribute to the development of free radicals (atoms that are missing an electron). Other studies are linking HFCA with some cancers, including pancreatic cancer. For those of you who want to do further study, you might surf the Internet for studies related to HFCS. Because of these studies I read labels consistently and avoid any product that contains high-fructose corn syrup.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Fructose is often called fruit sugar because of its presence in fruit. A monosaccharide, it is a single sugar molecule consisting of six carbon atoms, six oxygen atoms and 12 hydrogen atoms. It can be absorbed quite quickly into the blood stream from your small intestines. In addition to fruit and fruit juices, fructose may be present in your menu as honey or syrup or as the food additive high-fructose corn syrup (found in many beverages, salad dressings, and so on). Fructose absorption can be very rapid if the source is high-fructose corn syrup. Absorption from whole fruits is less rapid because of the presence of fiber and other phytonutrients in fruit. Nevertheless, everything in balance, which means that it is possible to over-dose on fruit. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Glucose, Fructose, and the Brain

Based on the number of questions floating around, it appears that many people are confused about fructose, glucose, and what works best for the brain. Let’s start with glucose. Glucose is the major source of energy for muscles and many other body’s processes. It is the preferred source of energy for the brain and the nervous system, When glucose levels are low, decision-making, critical thinking, willpower, and self-control can be impaired. As with many things in life, however, there are healthier sources for glucose and unhealthier sources. Naturally the brain and nervous tissue tends to function better when they receive healthier sources of glucose. So, on this Valentine's Day for 2018 you might want to think of a little gift or surprise that involves unhealthier forms of glucose. Just saying . . .More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Brain-Computer Similarities, 8

Sometimes the human brain fails and is unable to store and retrieve memories from its files. This may be because cells die in the hippocampus, the brain’s search engine. Sometimes cells containing memories die and then the information is gone. Period. In a similar way, a computer may “crash” and lose its ability to locate and access its memory files. Either way, brain or computer, it’s pretty frustrating. If the computer is not maintained properly and “clean-up” work done regularly such as defragging” (not that I can really explain that term!), the speed at which it works can slow down. If the brain does not get enough sleep sufficient to complete its night-time housekeeping chores, some of your brain functions may slow down, as well. Your brain must get rid of waste products that accumulated while you were awake. In your brain, garbage disposal happens while you sleep. If you don’t give your brain enough time to do its job, the garbage doesn’t get emptied properly. Rest and sleep help your brain and body clean house, which helps your brain work at top speed. It’s all pretty amazing, actually!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Brain-Computer Similarities, 7

No surprise, both brains and computers can be damaged if not destroyed by accidents, injuries, and trauma. If you and your brain become immersed in water and cannot breathe in air and oxygen, the brain cells start to die. If you experience severe injuries that involve excessive bleeding, there may be insufficient blood getting to your brain, which can result in death. If you whack your head on a hard surface or receive blows to the head or are violently shaken, some of the neuronal axons or nerve pathways can break in two and be severed. This can interfere with the neurons’ ability to communicate with each other, which can interfere with the brain’s ability to “think,” and can lead to pugilistic Parkinson’s or other types of dementia (as with sports-related head injuries and subsequent dementia). If a computer becomes immersed in water, it can short-out and “die,” too. Drop your computer and some functions may be damaged, if not completely destroyed. Sometimes it can be repaired and sometimes it cannot. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Brain Computer Similarities, 6

In order to function properly, the brain needs to be in a body where the constant temperature typically is somewhere in the range of 97 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature gauge for the brain and body is located inside the brain, the hypothalamus If your temperature gets too high, the hypothalamus tries to set in motion strategies that might bring down the temperature. For example, it might trigger blood vessels to dilate which creates sweating. The sweating, in turn, triggers evaporation that creates a cooling effect. A temperature that registers 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit may indicate that hyperthermia is setting in. Hyperthermia (too hot) is the term for overheating of the body and specifically in the brain. The term malignant hyperthermia is a rare condition related to body-temperature dysfunction. Did you know that some drugs can cause hyperthermia? The risk of hyperthermia rises in people who use stimulant drugs such as cocaine, MDMA or Ecstasy, or methamphetamine. Delirium tremens, a complication of heavy alcohol use, can trigger hyperthermia. More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Brain-Computer Similarities, 5

Both the brain and the computer work best when they are cool. Overheating of either one can result in malfunction. Laptops can overheat when there is insufficient airflow inside the computer case. This might occur because dust builds up and block the fan openings, or some of the internal components are over working (generating more heat than usual). Your brain may overheat if you are in a situation of high heat and high humidity. This can result in a heat stroke, so called. Your brain can overheat if your temperature reaches 104 to 106 degrees, often from a virus. Very high body temperatures can lead to brain damage. If you are out in high humidity and high heat for a prolonged period you can get heat stroke. Or if you exercise excessively, especially in combination with dehydration. Signs of overheating of the brain may include headache, dizziness, fainting, confusion, nausea, hallucinations, faintness, and even coma. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Brain-Computer Similarities, 4

Both brains and computers are susceptible to viruses. A computer virus or worm can slow down computer programs, corrupt files, and even kill the computer, if you will. That’s the purpose of virus-protection programs such as Norton and MacAfee that can be purchased and downloaded onto your computer. The program scans your computer regularly and isolates viruses and/or notifies you that something needs to be handled. A virus in the brain can negatively impact your ability to think, to accomplish many brain functions, and can even kill neurons or thinking cells and/or glial or supporting cells. When a virus invades and directly affects the brain or spiral cord you may have heard it referred to as Viral or Aseptic Meningitis (because no bacteria appear to be involved) of or Viral Encephalitis. Viruses that may infect the brain include: cytomegalovirus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV; Human Herpes Virus-6 or HHV-6; Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2; Zika infection; Varicella-zoster virus (VZV); Rabies virus; Poliomyelitis virus; papovaviruses, measles, and so on. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Brain-Booting Breakfasts and Chronic Disease

Breakfast is more than just an energy-producing strategy. It has been linked with chronic diseases. Senior author of a study related to breakfast and coronary heart disease and associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, Eric Rimm, said, “It’s a really simple message. Breakfast is an important meal.” And Leah Cahill, postdoctoral research fellow in HSPH’s Department of Nutrition, was quoted as saying: “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time.” This study corroborated other studies that have pointed to a link between breakfast and obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other health problems seen as precursors to heart problems. As my favorite aunt would likely have put it: “So what’s your problem? Eat a good breakfast already! I do.” And she lived to be nearly ninety! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Brain-Booting Breakfasts, 2

Some people seem to have difficulty wrapping their brains around the importance of booting up your brain function with breakfast, that’s another area of research that some people have difficulty believing—that breakfast has that much to do with energy production. Prevailing wisdom has been that a failure to eat breakfast can result in a 40 percent loss of energy by noon. That’s not all. In a study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), researchers found that men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who did eat a morning meal. Non-breakfast-eaters were generally hungrier later in the day and ate more food at night, perhaps contributing to metabolic changes and heart disease. The scientists analyzed food questionnaire data and health outcomes from 1992-2008 on 26,902 male health professionals, ages 45-82. During the study, 1,572 of the men had cardiac events. Even after accounting for diet, physical activity, smoking, and other lifestyle factors, the association between skipping breakfast and heart disease persisted. More tomorrow.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Brain-Booting Breakfasts

Studies have shown that eating a healthier breakfast boots up the brain much like you would boot up a computer with an energy source. The brain prefers glucose as its source of energy. Although other parts of the body can use fat, protein, or carbohydrate for energy, the brain functions best with carbohydrate fuel. Due to its rapid metabolism, the brain requires minute-to-minute glucose. Some even say that carbohydrate (glucose source) is the only source of fuel that the brain can use (it cannot burn fat). Glucose levels decline more during a period of intense cognitive processing. Studies in all types of people have shown improved mental ability following a carbohydrate meal. But what type of carbs? Healthier ones, of course, Carbs that are eaten in as natural state as possible and that are relatively low on the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load lists are better for a Longevity Lifestyle.

(Nedley, Neil, M.D. Proof Positive; Brand-Miller, Jennie, PhD, Thomas M. S. Wolever, MD, PhD, et al. The New Glucose Revolution)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Brain-Computer Similarities, 3

Brains and computers both need to be ‘booted up.’ Naturally you boot up your computer by connecting it to a power source and turning it on. Most computers have some battery storage that allows you to use them even when not connected to a power source—at least for some period of time. Your brain needs to be booted up, as well. There are a several ways to boot up your brain: one is by eating breakfast that includes some healthier carbs (as you break-the-fast that has occurred during sleep). You can boot up the brain by engaging in some type of physical exercise. As the old saying goes Use it and move it or lose it. You can also boot up your brain through brain breathing that increases the amount of oxygen to your brain. Here’s the formula:

  • Breathe in deeply to a count of four
  • Hold your breath to a count of twelve
  • Breathe out through pursed lips to a count of eight.
Take three or four brain breaths first thing in the morning and throughout the day as needed. More tomorrow.