Today in Mais Saúde we present a simple research study that gives all of us another reason to work on our diet and exercise to keep our blood sugar levels in the normal range. This study, regarding our brain and our blood sugar levels, comes from the Australian National University in Canberra and was published in the September 4 issue of the journal Neurology.
The researchers wanted to see if people who had fasting blood sugar levels that were “normal” (by World Health Organization standards), but at the high end of the normal range, might have any impairment in brain functioning. It has already been demonstrated that individuals with diabetes suffer up to a double risk of dementia.
The Australian researchers performed MRI brain scans on 266 healthy individuals, aged 60 to 64 and measured the volume of the different structures in their brains, including two area that are especially important in memory and intellectual skills, the hippocampus and the amygdala. Then four years later, they performed another MRI scan and rechecked the volume of the various brain structures.
They found the people who fasting glucose levels at the high end of normal (but still below 110mg/dl) showed a significant amount of brain shrinkage in those two brain areas compared with people with lower levels of blood sugar.
There are other factors that contribute to shrinkage of the brain, such as heavy alcohol use, high blood pressure and smoking, and after calculating those factors into the formula, the Australian researchers felt the higher blood glucose levels were responsible for about 10% of the shrinkage effect. Not a huge amount, but as we get older, we want to keep our brain volume as high as possible!
This study gives us all one more reason to try to control our blood sugar levels, especially those of us with levels still “normal”, but at the high end of the normal range. That means, basically two things: eat well and do some exercise every day!
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