Tags: hypoglycemia | Alzheimers | amygdala | alcoholism

How Hypoglycemia Affects Behavior

Wednesday, 17 May 2017 04:35 PM Current | Bio | Archive

In many ways, hypoglycemic episodes present exactly like symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In my book, “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills,” I hypothesized that Alzheimer’s may be a form of isolated brain hypoglycemia.

There is now growing evidence that hypoglycemia may play a major role in Alzheimer’s.

Behavioral effects of hypoglycemia include extreme agitation, and in some individuals, outbursts of anger and violence.

I once treated a child, about age 6, who would become extremely agitated and violent just before a meal. No threat or bribe, not even a spanking could calm him down.

Yet according to his mother, once he ate it was as if someone had given him a tranquilizer — he became calm, sweet, and well-behaved.

But as the next mealtime came around, the cycle happened all over again.

I was to hear this story time and time again.

Once children’s diets were changed — mainly removing all of the sugary treats and drinks, as well as excitotoxins — they returned to normal. An angry, uncontrollable terror would be replaced by a sweet, calm child.

This kind of episodic anger can also occur in adults, and helps explain the anger often seen in alcoholics.

Alcohol can precipitously drop a person’s blood sugar. In fact, some people will experience such a severe drop in blood sugar that they lapse into a coma or even have a stroke.

The reason for anger appears to be that the amygdala — an area of the brain that regulates emotions, including anger — contains a great many glutamate receptors, making it very sensitive to hypoglycemia.

There is also evidence of a connection between psychopathology and hypoglycemia, meaning that hypoglycemia is not just related to spontaneous violence, but is also connected to planned violence and other antisocial behavior.

The glutamate system in the brain is associated with controlling emotions, especially negative emotions.

If these connections are burned out by repeated episodes of hypoglycemia, there may be a loss of emotional control.

Depression and addictions of all types are also strongly connected to elevations of glutamate within certain parts of the brain.

The strongest connection between addictions and hypoglycemia occurs with alcoholism.

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In many ways, hypoglycemic episodes present exactly like symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
hypoglycemia, Alzheimers, amygdala, alcoholism
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 04:35 PM
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