Sugar improves memory in old age

High blood sugar causes memory lapses

Approach to new treatments for mental dysfunction

According to American researchers, a high blood sugar level has an impact on brain performance. That could also indicate why some people have more memory problems as they age, reports the science magazine Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Brain performance can be improved through exercise and weight loss that lowers blood sugar levels.

Glucose is like fuel for the body. High blood sugar levels, which show that the transfer of sugar into the tissues no longer works, are an indicator of diabetes. The scientists from the University of New York examined 30 men and women aged 53 to 89 years. Some of the subjects had higher blood sugar levels. They suffered from what is known as pathological glucose tolerance (IGT), which is often noticeable before diabetes. In particular, the researchers examined the performance of the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory, in the patients. They noticed that the IGT patients had a smaller hippocampus than those who had normal sugar levels. They did worse in tests that used short-term memory. In the opinion of the scientists, too much pressure is exerted on the “fuel reserves” when they think about it. That leads to memory lapses. The hippocampus region is a very sensitive region in the brain.

"Our research showed that the regulation of glucose in the human body is related to memory performance," said Antonio Convit, professor of psychiatry and medicine at the Center for Brain Health at the NYU School of Medicine. The findings should lead to greater importance being attached to blood sugar levels. This is also a starting point for further studies of obesity and diabetes. "There are many older people, but also many middle-aged people who suffer from IGT and have mental dysfunction," says Convit.

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