The brain occupies only five percent of our total body mass, but it needs at least 25 percent of our body’s energy supply to meet its considerable metabolic demands. Despite what many people think, the brain does not require glucose for its energy needs. Instead, it prefers the energy units that are found in fat known as ketones.
The brain can and does burn glucose in an emergency or when a person’s diet is dominated by starch-based carbohydrates such as pasta, potatoes, bread, cereals, and legumes. However, it functions much more efficiently and effectively on the ketones found in healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In the absence of carbohydrates, the brain will naturally shift from glucose to fat for its primary fuel source.
Ketone usage by the brain (ketosis) is prevalent when a newborn nurses on fat-rich mother’s milk. The switch to glucose dependence by the brain will not occur until carbohydrates are introduced into the child’s diet. The body burns excess sugar whenever it is present primarily so that it rids itself of this damaging, toxic substance. If the body requires sugar — such as in the rare fight or flight response — then it can always rely on the carbohydrate stores of glycogen in the liver for this. Subsequently, you don’t ever need to consume carbohydrates for glucose to be available to the brain or body.
Not only is glucose dependency by the brain and body unnatural, but it can also result in increased risks for many diseases, especially cancer. Cancer loves glucose (and other sugars) because it is anaerobic. It feeds on sugar because it is a necessary energy source for it to thrive. Glucose, fructose, and other sugars always glycate and attract free-radicals, and glycation is the primary cause of brain degeneration in both aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is also associated with gluten sensitivity as well.
Your unhealthy fats stem from anything artificially produced such as partially hydrogenated oils. These include corn oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and of course, your trans fats. Trans fats should be avoided at all costs. Your healthy fat sources come from omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold water fish such as sardines and salmon), omega-6 fatty acids (found in animal sources and in sesame oil), and olive oil contains both. However, if you cook with olive oil, it will destroy the omega-3 fatty acids and may also become rancid. For high heat cooking, it is recommended to use sesame oil, palm oil or coconut oil. It is also highly advised to balance your omega-3 and omega-6 intake of fat in a 50:50 ratio.
Excess sugar and starch is the primary cause of body fat and obesity. Glucagon is necessary for the process of burning fat as energy and this does not happen in the presence of insulin. So, if you consume enough carbs to activate insulin, glucagon is rendered useless and therefore, fat cannot be burned. Instead of burning glucose found in a carbohydrate-based diet, if you can train the brain and body to get its energy source from ketones found in healthy fats, then the brain will be fed with a much more available, reliable, and sustainable fuel to meet its considerable metabolic requirements. The key is to eliminate sugar and starch completely from the diet.
Jason Lincoln Jeffers is a Wellness Coach who founded Sunlighten and co-founded Sunlight Day Spa; holistic wellness companies promoting infrared radiant therapy, sound therapy, and massage therapy. His Wellness Coaching practice embodies infrared sauna detoxification, upper cervical care, and adhering to an alkalizing, nutrient-dense, sugar-, gluten-, and starch-free diet.
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