(NaturalHealth365) Research has established a direct correlation between a decline in the size of the hippocampus – the memory center of the brain – and overall brain health. Elevated blood sugar levels have been shown to have a direct relationship with brain shrinkage and resultant problems with memory, learning and cognition.
A report by German researchers published in the journal Neurology looked at 141 individuals with an average age of 63 to see if there was a relationship between memory and hippocampus size. Their ability to remember as well as learn new things was assessed, and hippocampus size was measured using an MRI scan of the brain. The participants were also evaluated in terms of their blood sugar levels related to these other markers.
Lower blood sugar levels associated with better memory, learning and brain health
The researchers discovered a direct correlation between lower blood sugar and more positive results in several brain functioning areas. Lowered glucose was associated with significantly better memory as well as an increased ability to learn new things. There was also a strong correlation between blood sugar levels and hippocampus size, with brain shrinkage found to be much more pronounced in those with high blood sugar.
Even in the absence of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance, higher blood glucose levels appear to negatively affect brain health and overall health. Lowering and regulating glucose is crucial for a number of health reasons, and now memory and cognition can be added to the list. In addition to affecting brain size, memory and overall brain health, high blood sugar has also been associated with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and dementia.
Yet another reason to avoid high blood sugar
The negative effects of an excess of simple carbohydrates and sugar in the diet have been in the health spotlight for a number of years now. This research acts as an underscore for the importance of avoiding glucose-elevating foods in the diet.
Instead, favoring green leafy vegetables, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other complex carbohydrates is much better for blood sugar and overall health. Lean protein and a moderate amount of healthy fats from sources such as oily fish, nuts, avocados and olive oil are also important components of a balanced, healthy diet.
Why prevention matters: Brain shrinkage difficult to reverse
A clear relationship has now been detected between blood sugar levels and the expected rate of brain shrinkage that can lead to memory decline and a reduction in overall brain health.
These results are particularly important for the aging population, as at this time there are no known medications that can reverse brain shrinkage. However, the findings should also serve as motivation for everyone regardless of age to keep their blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
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