Energy Drinks And Brain Damage: Understanding The Connection
For years, energy drinks have been a popular beverage option for people needing a pick-me-up. These products claim to increase mental awareness and combat fatigue. They contain ingredients like taurine, B vitamins, ginseng, and of course, caffeine. In fact, some energy drinks can contain more caffeine than sodas or even a standard cup of coffee.
While most people have tried an energy drink at least once, theyre widely consumed by males aged 18 to 34. Unfortunately, teen consumption has proven problematic, sometimes resulting in brain damage. This may seem unlikely, but under certain circumstances, energy drinks can be extremely harmful.
The Brain Works With 20 Watts This Is Enough To Cover Our Entire Thinking Ability
The German brain researcher and biochemist Henning Beck about the most flawed yet most ingenious structure in the world the human brain.
Topics online: In the field of future technologies, there are few topics discussed as intensively as artificial intelligence . The topic is a source of anxiety for many people because they fear that AI could overtake the human brain. Can you put their fears to rest?
Henning Beck: You cannot make a direct comparison between the human brain and AI. The brain is always better in situations with little data, where there is uncertainty, and with human interactions. Computers, on the other hand, are better when you have a lot of data and the data situation is clear and measurable. Computers follow rules, whereas we can set new rules and also break them. We think interactively and in concepts, and we change things. So the human brain still has the upper hand in many areas.
Can you explain the difference in more detail?
In your lectures, you talk about our secret weapon. What do you mean?
What does intelligence mean in this context?
Why should we break rules?
It is a well-known fact that the best ideas dont come to you at your desk, but in the midst of mundane activities? What exactly happens in the brain?
Elon Musk and Bill Gates say that AI will soon overtake the human brain.
Glucose Requirements To Support Energy And Anabolic Demands During Brain Development
Glycolytic byproducts are a crucial source of carbons to produce glutathione, NADPH, and riboses along the pentose phosphate pathway , which are themselves essential for the synthesis of fatty acids and nucleotide sensitive, respectively, and to maintain oxidative stress homeostasis . Biosynthesis of macromolecules from glucose metabolites is critical to support key physiological processes behind proper brain growth and maturation it has been shown, for example, that axon growth, synapse formation, and myelination rely critically on aerobic glycolysis . Interestingly, aerobic glycolysis is predominant in the white matter compared to the gray matter, and it has been shown that glycolytic byproducts, such as lactate, are especially important for myelin production by oligodendrocytes . While it has been assumed that most of the glucose is used for ion pumping to maintain synaptic activity, these findings highlight that glucose is critically involved in anabolic requirements beyond energetic demands during neurodevelopment .
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Where Does The Human Brain Get Its Energy
Whats the source of energy that powers the human brain? Mainly sugar, glucose. Glucose is broken down, and in the process it is used to create a gradient of hydrogen ions . So you get a sort of dam with lots of hydrogen on one side and little on the other. They can only pass through a specific structure, which uses the force to create ATP. ATP is then used to power many biological processes, including the active processes that keep your neurons firing. See Fabian van den Berg’s answer to Why do we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide? for more details.
Neurons fire using a similar method of gradients. When the incoming signal increases the voltage enough, voltage gated channels spring open and Sodium can flow in making it more positive. The neighboring gate also springs open, the same happens, and the chains keeps going until the synaps, where neurotransmitters are released to do the same to the next neuron. See Fabian van den Berg’s answer to How does opening a sodium channel cause depolarization in a neuron? for a better description.
In order to keep the neuron negative, and to reset it back after firing, an active process ferries ions across the membrane, which requires energy, and the energy comes from ATP.
So ultimately your brain runs on sugar and oxygen, which it uses to power the ATP machine in your mitochondria.
Energy Demands Limit Our Brains’ Information Processing Capacity
- University College London
- Our brains have an upper limit on how much they can process at once due to a constant but limited energy supply, according to a new study using a brain imaging method that measures cellular metabolism.
Our brains have an upper limit on how much they can process at once due to a constant but limited energy supply, according to a new UCL study using a brain imaging method that measures cellular metabolism.
The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that paying attention can change how the brain allocates its limited energy as the brain uses more energy in processing what we attend to, less energy is supplied to processing outside our attention focus.
Explaining the research, senior author Professor Nilli Lavie said: “It takes a lot of energy to run the human brain. We know that the brain constantly uses around 20% of our metabolic energy, even while we rest our mind, and yet it’s widely believed that this constant but limited supply of energy does not increase when there is more for our mind to process.
“If there’s a hard limit on energy supply to the brain, we suspected that the brain may handle challenging tasks by diverting energy away from other functions, and prioritising the focus of our attention.
The study was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, Toyota Motor Europe, and Wellcome.
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Oxygen Concentration In The Brain
While there is significant evidence to support enhanced neuronal oxidative metabolism during activity, what remains unclear is what is happens to cellular oxygen concentration following activation. This is partly due to difficulties in recording oxygen concentration as well as from confounds in interpreting oxygen consumption imaging signals. Blood-oxygen-level dependent fMRI which relies on neurovascular coupling to measure regions of brain activity based on measurements of oxyhemeoglobin and deoxyhemeoglobin consistently generates signals with a post-stimulus undershoot . The physiological basis of the BOLD undershoot is heavily debated and is likely stimulus-dependent, one theory however suggests that the BOLD undershoot reflects an uncoupling of CBF and energy metabolism. This is supported by evidence that oxidative metabolism remains elevated post activation after both blood flow and blood volume have returned to baseline . Consistent with this, numerous studies have reported similar increases in oxidative metabolism indicating that sustained focal activation raises the rate of oxidative metabolism to a new steady state level . With dynamic changes in oxygen metabolism occurring during neuronal activity, dynamic changes are likely to be reflected in levels of oxygen concentration, potentially having secondary effects on protein function and gene expression.
Ketone Bodies May Support Metabolism Besides Being A Substrate
The theory related to the fuel crisis seen with neurodegenerative disease is summarised in , which also demonstrates the proposed protective mechanism of ketone bodies, especially BHB.
Vicious circle of energy crisis in neurodegenerative disease. The proposed effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on disease mechanisms are illustrated in green, demonstrating an inhibition of oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction together with a facilitated ketone oxidation, which results in at least a partially restored metabolism.
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Glucose: The Fuel Of Brains Neurons
Brain function and glucose metabolism are intimately linked . Indeed, glucose is the main, if not the only, energy substrate of this organ. Hypoglycemia causes rapid brain repercussions, but fortunately, most of the time quickly reversible after correction of hypoglycemia. With regard to hyperglycemia, acute situations such as ketoacidosis and hyperosmolarity can lead to a coma, with significant mortality. The chronic effects of hyperglycemia on the brain remain unclear, apart from the risk of ischemic stroke. However, microangiopathy is intimately linked to chronic hyperglycemia, and can cause irreversible diffuse vascular lesions and cerebral ischemia, resulting in cortical atrophy and diabetic encephalopathy.
The brain uses glucose as its main source of energy, although it can utilize other metabolites in special situations such as fasting. It has very high energy consumption for its size, mainly due to the high energy supply needed to maintain its functions .
What Happens When You Dont Eat Any Carbs
Its estimated that when fueled by carbohydrates, the brain needs roughly 110-145 grams of glucose per day in order to function optimally.3 Most people who follow a typical modern-day high-carb diet eat roughly twice as many carbs as their brains use, providing them with an ample glucose supply.
What happens if you eat far fewer than 110 grams of carbs per day, or even no carbs at all? Does the brain starve? Absolutely not!
Your liver and muscles store glucose in the form of glycogen. Although the amount varies from person to person, an average-sized man weighing 154 lbs stores about 100 grams of glycogen in his liver.4
When you stop eating carbs for several hours, liver glycogen is broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream to prevent blood glucose from dropping too low. Although far more glycogen is stored in your muscles than in your liver, it remains in the muscles to meet their energy needs and cant be released into the bloodstream to raise blood glucose.5
After going 24-48 hours without any carbs, glycogen levels become depleted and insulin levels decrease .
At this point, the liver steps up its production of water-soluble compounds known as ketones, created by the breakdown of fatty acids.6 Ketones can be made from either the fat you eat or your bodys fat stores. The resulting ketones can cross the blood-brain barrier to provide the brain with an additional source of energy.7
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Ketone Bodies Reaching The Brain
During fasting, free fatty acids are mobilized from adipocytes and transported to the liver where they contribute to the synthesis of ketone bodies . This process is dependent on low insulin levels, which enhances lipolysis in white adipose tissue due to the suppressed insulin-induced inhibition on hormone sensitive lipase. In hepatocytes, they subsequently undergo beta-oxidation that may initiate ketogenesis . Due to the need of transporters for the entry of long chain fatty acids to the mitochondrial matrix, this could be a limiting step for ketosis during a ketogenic diet. Interestingly, MCFA are not dependent on the transporter protein for mitochondrial entry .
How Energy Drinks Can Lead To Brain Damage
Simply consuming an energy drink wont cause brain damage. There are a number of other factors that come into play. However, the high levels of caffeine in these drinks can alter a persons behavior, which is why many teens have sustained injuries. A study published by the scientific journal PLOS ONE found that teenagers who sustained a traumatic brain injury in the past year were seven times more likely to have consumed five or more energy drinks in the past week than teens with no history of TBI. However, what exactly is causing the injuries?
Energy drinks are very popular with athletes. Many of these beverages are marketed to athletes who need to boost their performance. This boost in energy can lead to overexertion, which can cause head injuries, especially while playing contact sports like football. Additionally, many teens mix energy drinks with alcohol. This dangerous mixture could easily lead to falls, aggressiveness, and other dangerous behavior. Finally, energy drinks have been found to interfere with the recovery process after a TBI.
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The Brain During Sleep
The brain uses about 20% of the bodyâs total energy, and an interesting question is how this power requirement changes during sleep. A website run by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology says the brain “receives 15% of the cardiac output, 20% of total body oxygen consumption, and 25% of total body glucose utilization”. Given its small size, the brain uses a disproportionate amount of the bodyâs energy. We know the brain is active during sleep, but does it slow down at all from the daytime, as the rest of the body tends to?
And how feasible is the hypothesis, posited many times, that sleep evolved so individuals could save energy? In an environment of food scarcity â which we evolved in and which wild animals live in â it is possible that sleep helped conserve energy when it wasnât optimal to be looking for food. Overall energy metabolism is as much as 10% lower during sleep .
A study showed the bodyâs energy use does not vary much with stage of sleep. The extra energy consumed by the brain in REM sleep is balanced out by the less energy used by the skeletal muscles that are paralyzed during REM.
In the same study scientists found that sleep deprivation increases resting energy expenditure, which is consistent with other symptoms of sleep deprivation such as a subjective feeling of coldness.
Hypoxia Inducible Transcription Factors
Figure 2. Hypoxia inducible transcription factor regulation. Under normal oxygen conditions hypoxia-inducible factor-1 is hydroxylated by prolyl hydroxylase enzymes and targeted for ubiquitination by the Von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppresser ubiquitin ligase complex . During hypoxia or low oxygen conditions, HIF-1 is stabilized, translocates to the nucleus and associates with HIF- to promote gene expression, targeting genes containing a hypoxia response element . HIF-1 acts as a glycolytic enhancer through transcriptional activation of metabolic genes including 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-bisphosphate 3 and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase-1 , both positive regulators of glycolysis and monocarboxylate transporter 4 , the lactate efflux transporter. Ub, ubiquitin OH, hydroxyl group.
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The Cost Of Ongoing Or Baseline Activity
Thus, in contemplating the functional significance of the high fixed cost of brain function , activities directly associated with this ongoing neuronal activity must be strongly considered. The question then arising is just what kind of neuronal activity are we talking about. A possible step in the direction of answering that question is first to examine what is meant by the term âactivationsâ used in the context of modern functional brain imaging with PET and fMRI.
Food For Thought: What Fuels Brain Cells
Report on Progress
The brain is a thrifty organ. It requires only 20 Watts, much like a basic household light bulb to fuel its amazing information processing power. This energetic cost is amazingly low when compared to the Megawatts required by todays most powerful supercomputers, whose performance, particularly in terms of flexibility and learning capacities, pales when compared to the human brain. Yet, as far as the bodys energetic budget goes, the brain is a glutton. While representing only 2 percent of the body mass, 15 percent of the blood pumped by the heart is delivered to the brain. From the blood, the brain extracts 20 percent of the stuff that fuels all cells of the body, namely glucose and oxygen. This value means that the brain uses per unit mass, ten times more energy than the rest of the organism.
In recent years, thanks to the development of new imaging technologies such as positron emission tomography and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and in vivo biochemical approaches such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy , it became apparent that the brain can use molecules other than glucose to produce energy. And the use of glucose itself may be more complex than initially thought. With these techniques it is possible to follow the metabolic fate of specifically-labeled molecules and identify energy substrates other than glucose that can provide an alternative fuel to brain cells.
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Glucose Metabolism: Fueling The Brain
The mammalian brain depends on glucose as its main source of energy. In the adult brain, neurons have the highest energy demand , requiring continuous delivery of glucose from blood. In humans, the brain accounts for ~2% of the body weight, but it consumes ~20% of glucose-derived energy making it the main consumer of glucose . Glucose metabolism provides the fuel for physiological brain function through the generation of ATP, the foundation for neuronal and non-neuronal cellular maintenance, as well as the generation of neurotransmitters. Therefore, tight regulation of glucose metabolism is critical for brain physiology and disturbed glucose metabolism in the brain underlies several diseases affecting both the brain itself as well as the entire organism.
The role of glucose for brain function
Edit: I’ve Learned That This Article Should Not Be Trusted Due To Multiple Weaknesses
Perhaps Gailliot et al.‘s1 work on blood glucose and self-control is a more direct answer than the fMRI results . I think the link with blood glucose is not specific to self-control.
The present work suggests that self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source. Laboratory tests of self-control and of social behaviors showed that acts of self-control reduced blood glucose levels, low levels of blood glucose after an initial self-control task predicted poor performance on a subsequent self-control task, and initial acts of self-control impaired performance on subsequent self-control tasks, but consuming a glucose drink eliminated these impairments. Self-control requires a certain amount of glucose to operate unimpaired. A single act of self-control causes glucose to drop below optimal levels, thereby impairing subsequent attempts at self-control.
1 Gailliot, Matthew T. Baumeister, Roy F. DeWall, C. Nathan Maner, Jon K. Plant, E. Ashby Tice, Dianne M. Brewer, Lauren E. Schmeichel, Brandon J.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 92, Feb 2007, 325-336. doi: 10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.525
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