Have you ever thought about what your brain needs to be able to think?
Spotlight On Energy
Every living being needs energy – but none of them can generate it on their own. It has to be taken in from outside. We humans meet our needs through what we eat every day. If we want to use this energy on a targeted basis during physical and mental activity, we have to know how our bodies convert food into energy. Carbohydrates, and most especially glucose (also known as dextrose) play a key role in this process.
Our Brain: A Fuel-Hungry Powerhouse
The brain is far and away the biggest user of energy in the human body. It’s hard to believe that our brain – a real lightweight, at only about three percent of our total body weight – burns huge quantities of fuel at the same time, powering away like a turbine. That’s because the brain is the body’s all-powerful control center and the center of cognition, and it has to be able to cope with a flood of tasks at all times: By comparison to computer technology, the human brain manages a staggering ten trillion (that’s a 1 followed by 13 zeroes) analog calculations per second. With so much work to manage, this unique powerhouse always needs an adequate supply of fuel.
Pure glucose simply delivers a faster supply of energy to the brain, for an immediate cognitive boost.Dextrose product range
Glucose: The Elixir of Life for the Brain
Amid all this activity, the brain grants itself one very special luxury – it prefers glucose to meet its energy needs. And those needs are huge indeed: The brain needs more than half of the glucose present in the body. In stressful situations, when brain activity ramps up, the brain can commandeer even more of the available glucose, up to 90 percent. These kinds of peaks occur when the brain is asked to perform to its utmost, such as during a challenging test.
But the brain itself cannot store even the smallest reserves of glucose. The only source from which it can draw glucose is the blood and the reserves stored by the liver.
Glucose: An Essential Carbohydrate
Carbohydrates are an important part of our diet. In our culture, 40 to 55 percent of our energy comes in the form of carbohydrates, while fat and protein supply the rest. That means carbohydrates are the main element in our diet.
Carbohydrates are absorbed especially quickly as a single component, the monosaccharide known as glucose or dextrose. In many foods, however, glucose is not present in this unbound, easily absorbed form, but in complex structures instead. “Complex” means that the individual components are linked together, either as pairs or in short or long chains. When this happens, the compounds are called “polysaccharides.” This category includes sugars as diverse as maltose, beet sugar, and starch.
The brain needs a huge amount of energy. Its preferred source? Glucose.Dextrose product range
The Creation of Energy
The carbohydrates we consume through food are broken down into individual components in the digestive tract – with glucose as the main product of this process. This kind of conversion takes time, however. The glucose now travels into the bloodstream via the small intestine. Once there, it appears in the form of blood glucose and is transported to the cells, where it is finally converted into energy. Now it is available for the brain and muscles.
Glucose that is not used right away is stored in the muscle cells and the liver in a special form called glycogen.
Glucose Travels Lightning-Fast to Where It Is Needed
However, if glucose is present in its pure form, it can travel freely straight to the blood. It passes directly through the intestinal wall and shows up in the blood just a few minutes afterward.
Of all the foods we typically eat when we face peak energy needs, glucose is among the fastest-acting sources of energy. To prove this fact, the Institute of Sport and Sport Science (Ifss) at the University of Freiburg’s nutrition department compared the glycemic index of glucose and other foods, such as bananas.
Glucose vs. Banana
In a test standardized according to German national (DIN) standards, the test subjects were given either pure glucose tablets or bananas with comparable carbohydrate content. The rise in blood glucose levels was first measured after five minutes.
The result was significant: In just this short time, blood sugar levels in the subjects who had taken glucose had risen about 20 percent on average. The average increase in those who had eaten bananas was only about five percent. This proved that glucose raised blood glucose levels four times as much as bananas. Even 30 minutes later, those who had taken glucose still had significantly higher blood sugar than those who had eaten bananas. The median increase for the glucose group was almost 80 percent, while it was just half as much – nearly 40 percent – for those in the banana group.
Diabetes: Risks and Support
Those who suffer from diabetes – the sugar disease – are impaired in their insulin functioning. Either the insulin is no longer able to transport blood glucose to the cells, or the pancreas no longer produces enough insulin. In both cases, blood sugar gets off track. It is often possible to counter diabetes by adopting a healthier lifestyle, getting the patient's blood sugar back on track.
The Risk of Hypoglycemia
But especially when medications become necessary to help control a patient’s blood glucose level, the patient faces an elevated risk of hypoglycemia. This is the most common side effect of insulin treatment. The process is fast, and often goes unnoticed by the diabetic patient: Suddenly there is excess insulin in the blood, and blood sugar is transported to the cells with excessive zeal. As a result, the level in the patient’s blood drops dangerously low. But once the brain stops receiving enough sugar, glucose is needed as soon as possible.
First Eat, Then Measure
All of this means that the top priority whenever even the slightest sign of low blood sugar arises is not to measure the sugar level, but to take action right away – preferably by consuming carbohydrates in their purest form, glucose. This specific form is the best choice when help is needed right away, since glucose travels very quickly to where it is needed. Pure glucose passes fully into the blood right away, alleviating acute low blood sugar in minutes.
Glucose as the First-Choice Remedy
All diabetics should carry it in their purse or pocket and have some ready on their nightstand as well: glucose, within reach at the first sign of hypoglycemia.