Raised Blood Sugar Levels Cause Memory Loss

memory loss high blood sugarPut that double-decker MoonPie down.  As if you needed more proof that sugar is unhealthy:  in addition to weight gain, diabetes, and heart troubles, it seems that having elevated blood sugar is closely linked to memory problems.

What’s that again?

Elevated blood sugar is linked to memory problems.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that higher blood glucose may be a risk factor for dementia.  Even small increases in blood sugar can have an effect.  The study was conducted on 141 healthy older people, all with normal blood sugar.  The participants were given a list of 15 words and then asked to repeat those words back.  When the blood sugar levels were raised (even  by .6 percent), the participants were able to recall fewer words.  Researchers note that the effect is not drastic, but that it is significant.

How do blood sugar levels physically affect the brain?  Agnes Floel, author of the study says that there are alternative possibilities.

One possibility is that the elevated blood sugar damages vessels in the brain, which can lead to decreased blood and nutrient flow to brain cells.

Another explanation is that elevated blood sugar may prevent the hippocampus (the brain’s memory center) from functioning properly.  Since the hippocampus requires glucose to retrieve information, any disruption of the transport of glucose can impact this memory center’s integrity.  It seems that when blood sugar levels in the body rise, it may be more difficult to get glucose to the hippocampus.

What will keep blood sugar in control?

  • Diet is important:  “Consuming a diet rich in fiber, vegetables, fruit, fish, and whole-grain products” is important, says Floel.
  • Exercise:  “Exercising regularly is absolutely associated with lower blood sugars, on average, and it’s also associated with brain health,” says Paul Crane  of the University of Washington.

If you have concerns about your blood sugar, follow up with your family physician.  Remember that we have all the supplies you’ll need for testing your blood sugar right here in the pharmacy.  If you’re not sure quite what you need, we’re here to help if you have any questions.

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