Understanding the Link between Glucose and Brain Health

Why Glucose Management is Key to Mental Health and Cognitive Function

Glucose management is often regarded as an important practice for diabetics or people experiencing hormonal imbalances. Glucose, however, plays a critical role in brain function for everyone, given that it is the brain’s primary energy source. Poor glucose management leading to too little or too high levels in the body negatively impacts all of the brain’s functions, from mental health to cognitive abilities. 

The brain is composed of a network of neurons that use half of our daily glucose intake. The energy the brain derives from glucose enables it to transmit information between its cells and execute essential bodily functions. When glucose levels are low, also known as hypoglycemia, the brain is unable to complete its processes, resulting in energy loss, poor attention, a decreased ability to learn and access memories. 

Large dips in glucose levels can also lead to depression, fatigue, and confusion or brain fog. Studies have linked poor mental health to poor glycemic control, and severe depression is linked to severe hypoglycemia. 

Having too much glucose in the bloodstream also has its drawbacks. High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, is a leading contributor to Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Too high blood sugar damages blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain leading to cell death, memory loss, poor concentration, and eventually atrophy of the brain. The impacts of too high glucose aren’t always felt immediately. Rather, persistent high levels of glucose in the blood stream lead to the gradual deterioration of brain cells that lead to long-term issues. 

As the epicenter of the body’s core functions, protecting brain health is key to living a healthy and fulfilling life. Eating a healthy diet at regular intervals, consistently exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight for your body are fundamental to glucose management. Request an A1C test from your healthcare provider to establish a baseline of your blood sugar and work with them to identify solutions if it is determined that your levels are outside of a healthy range. 



  • Brandi Sinkfield

    Dr. Brandi, is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist, who was inspired by her mother, a registered nurse who graduated with a degree in information technology. Through tough love and support from her father, extended family, and friends she attended Case Western Medical School and received her M.D. She completed residency training at Cleveland Clinic and dual fellowship training at Stanford Anesthesiology in Perioperative Management and Digital Health. Growing up she experienced the lack of transparency, shame and secrecy surrounding women’s health and body confidence driving her to imagine a pathway for her own daughter and other women to access information that empowers them and inspires confidence.