Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why PWN Shouldn't Eat Sugar

I was about to write this post when someone on the Narcolepsy Network Forum posted about getting sleepy from eating Christmas goodies.  So here’s what I wrote there: 

PWN should not eat sugar. Heidi L. sent me a link to a scientific paper that explains that glucose binds to orexin neurons and keeps them from working. Presumably, if you’re one of those PWN that’s lost 90% of your orexin neurons, you’ll want to maximize the output of the remaining 10%. Keep in mind that you can’t store glucose in your brain. It’s stored in your liver, which sends it up as needed. Your brain requires a lot of energy through the proper channels. But if you are constantly spiking your blood sugar, well, that can’t be good can it? I’ve had to avoid sugar for years because it makes me sleepy.

Also consider that the sugary items you were eating contained wheat gluten, which several of us find exacerbate our symptoms immensely.

The premise of the paper (see link below) is also a good reason to avoid getting Type 2 Diabetes since that would keep your blood glucose levels high even if you don’t eat anything. I know there’s a blood/brain barrier but obviously glucose has to get in to feed your brain. Following a low-glycemic diet might work well for you. Your body is capable of converting just about anything you eat into glucose; fats, proteins, and more complex starches & sugars. Natural foods like fruits & veggies and healthy meats will give you all the energy your brain needs without the sleepiness. The longer it takes for your body to break down the food, the better it is for you, although you have to watch your fat consumption because fat packs twice as many calories pound-for-pound as sugar does. High fat diets will also cause diabetes.

As far as sugars go, High Fructose Corn Syrup is the worst, (and a misnomer.) It’s 50/50 glucose/fructose floating separately from each other in both of their isomer forms. Your body doesn’t even have to work to break down the corn sucrose…some industrial chemical process has done that for you. Since your body uses d-glucose most readily, HFCS is going to spike your blood sugar more than any other type of sugar you could consume. If you’re drinking sodas to keep awake…well maybe try some coffee or tea. The aspartame in diet soda isn’t going to be any healthier.

Here’s the paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16731510?dopt=Abstract

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