Brain Loss

By Dean L. Jones

Various reports were released this week saying that smoking marijuana over many years can actually shrink the human brain.  Such studies reveal that the long-term effects of marijuana on the brain found that compared with non-users, habitual marijuana smokers’ had less gray matter, which is part that contains most of the brain’s nerve cells.

Reluctantly, our society is willing to accept the fact that marijuana has health benefits, such as pain-relieving properties for chemotherapy patients.  Which is a reason why I do not find the brain shrinkage report alarming, especially since no other substances were shared showing similar attributes toward causing the brain to shrink.  However, mass media is quick on the trigger to report how those who regularly use marijuana may encounter an intelligence quotient (IQ) meltdown.

Processed sugar is a chemical substance and if compared to marijuana use would far exceed the brain shrinkage possibilities, especially since nearly every packaged item contains it.  There is a proven relationship between imbalanced blood glucose levels to delayed recall, learning ability, and memory performance.  Medical professionals take blood sugar levels for a large variety of reasons, as for one it indicates dramatically the brain function and brain structure.

Processed sugar and carbohydrates represent a major threat to the brain, probably far greater than smoking marijuana.  Inappropriate blood sugar levels can cause shrinkage of two brain regions, the hippocampus and the amygdala.  The hippocampus and amygdala are involved in memory, whereas shrinkage in these areas could worsen memory and emotional processing.  Exposure to high glucose levels can be linked to a 6% to 10% decrease in the volume of the hippocampus and amygdala.

With the way in which many of us eat, it is a wonder that we have yet to create the future incredible shrinking brain species.  Take for instance the foodstuff heavily consumed from McDonald’s most popular menu items.  There are well over 400 items and the only foodstuff items sold that are not filled with added sugar include hash browns, Chicken McNuggets, French fries, regular coffee, peanuts and salt packets.  McDonald’s nutrition facts lists numerous diet sodas that show no added sugar, but the amount of artificial sweeteners is even more harmful to a person’s health.

The subject of brain shrinkage does not come up for all of the sugary-filled items that the average person consumes each day.  Brain treatment begins with anything we decide to put in our mouth and thinking that it is just marijuana is somewhat disingenuous.  Simply for the reason that as soon as some major corporation can sell marijuana the fresh marketing will be that it is the best tasting and most satisfying foodstuff available.  The main media machine did it with alcohol and cigarettes and the general public bought it hook, line and sinker.  So, before the brain gets too small, remember to live SugarAlert!
Dean Jones is an Ethics Advocate, Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), contributing his view on certain aspects of foodstuff.