Brain Fitness and Diabetes

Your brain controls your metabolism. The fitter your brain, the better your metabolism works. New research shows how some brain cells stop working right in type II diabetes. However, certain lifestyle choices can help your brain work better, improve your brain fitness, and smooth out your control of your metabolism

Copyright (c) 2007 The Brain Code LLC

An interesting paper came out recently in Nature talking about a newly discovered link between the brain and metabolism in type II diabetes. I thought the paper was interesting, not just for the new data, but because it supports the underlying concept of Brain Fitness – and more specifically, in this case, physical intelligence, which I have defined before as your brains ability to control your body.

Type II Diabetes in the Body

Type II diabetes is a condition where your body is unable to regulate blood sugar appropriately. Typically, when you eat and your blood sugar goes up from the sugars in the food, your pancreas senses a rise in blood sugar and releases insulin into your bloodstream. The insulin then goes around knocking on the doors of all your cells and tells them to take their share of sugar out of the blood and use it to make energy.

In type II diabetes, both of these things go wrong. First, your pancreas loses its ability to sense blood sugar and release insulin appropriately. Second, the insulin that is released (or injected) doesn’t work as well because the cells in your body begin to ignore it – or become insulin resistant.

Type II Diabetes in the Brain?

We also know that there are cells in the brain that sense blood sugar levels (called glucose-sensing neurons). Their job is to instruct different parts of your metabolism to respond appropriately – for example, make energy with the sugar, convert some of it to fat for later use, burn some for heat, and a bunch of other things. A fit brain that is working properly will keep a close watch on the nutrients floating around in the bloodstream and send out the appropriate instructions to the body.

The new research shows that in type II diabetics, at least some of the neurons that are supposed to sense rises in blood sugar aren’t doing their job and that this may be a part of the disease that we didn’t previously appreciate. Many physicians think of type II diabetes as solely a disease of the body, but we may need to start thinking about it as a disease of the brain as well. In fact, it may be that the brain loses its ability to monitor blood sugar first, and contributes to the progression of the disease – that is yet to be determined.

This all plays back to the general concept of Brain Fitness and that the choices you make on a daily basis affect how well your brain works and how well it is able to control everything, including your metabolism. Choosing to eat high sugar foods on a regular basis will eventually cause cells in your body and your brain to lose their sensitivity to blood sugar and wreak havoc on your metabolism.

Fight Back

The good news is that you can improve your sensitivity to blood sugar (glucose) through eating well and exercising. Both of these things contribute to bringing your brain and your body back in tune so that everything will operate more smoothly. Unfortunately, many people don’t make this a priority until their brains and bodies are so far out of tune that recovery is extremely difficult.

The body is an amazing thing and has an incredible tolerance for us mistreating it. This was great for our survival over hundreds of thousands of years of lack of food and shelter and a constant threat from out environment – but today it almost works against us. Because our metabolism is so good at tolerating us mistreating ourselves, we often don’t know we have a problem until the problem is out of control. This is why people wait so long before they become proactive in controlling their own health.

I encourage everyone to give your brain and your body the best chance to serve you well. Don’t wait until you or your kids need the medication to try to fix the problem.


Making fitness workouts a part of your lifestyle is one of the best decisions you could ever make in your life. To get the best out of your fitness workouts.