Holiday Health: Protect Your Brain From Sugar!

In my un-scientific office poll, the number one connection people had with “holidays” was “eating a ton.” It is probably a pretty good approximation of what your coworkers and family would say as well. While everyone is stuffing down pumpkin pie and peppermint bark, it’s important to do so with care. With the recent link found between blood sugar and Alzheimer’s it is even more important to navigate the minefield known as “the holiday season” as safely as possible. Here are a few tips that not many people know, but can help keep you safe and happy this holiday.



Know sugar’s code names.

Beware of “health halos” —just because a food is organic or labeled natural doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Common code names for sugar that people often associate with “healthy” alternatives are agave nectar, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, palm sugar, and any ingredient that ends in “-ose.” Honey and maple syrup are also obvious forms of natural sugar that is often used in “healthy” food. These health halos are some of the easiest to be fooled by, so beware!

Watch out for simple carbs. 

This is a tip that seems like a no-brainer, but one that too many of us forget or ignore during the season of chocolate and pie. Even “healthy” alternatives like “whole grain” bread spikes blood sugar as much as white bread! That spike just leads to the need for more a short time after. Make sure you check the ingredients for high fructose corn syrup, something found in almost every bread you find at the supermarket. Help your family steer clear of it with you!

If you’re going to indulge, do it intentionally.

Now, while there are certainly people out there that can walk past every dessert at the table, most of us just aren’t that strong. Planning a splurge may take the spontaneity out of it, but it certainly helps to avoid going overboard! Picking a food, the portion, and even what day you can indulge on will help not only keep you healthy, but can get others to follow your lead. Your healthy choices will make others do the same. It’s win-win!

Share this with your family over the holidays. The effects of sugar on long term brain health and its physical effects are becoming more and more worrisome, but with all the information that is available, teaching your loved ones healthier habits can bring about much happier holidays, and much longer lives.

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