How Sugar Makes You Dumb

In All Health Watch, Cognitive Health, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article, Health Warning

It’s long been known that having Type 2 diabetes can affect your memory and thinking skills.

But what about people who don’t have the disease? Can rising blood sugar levels damage your mental sharpness if you’re not a diabetic?

That’s the question researchers at Peking University Health Science Center set out to answer.

They analyzed blood sugar levels and cognitive function in 5,189 people over a 10-year period.

The average age of the subjects at the start of the study was 66. The researchers first determined each participant’s initial cognitive skills. They gave the subjects tests for memory and word recall, ability to complete mental tasks, and accuracy of recalling an image shown on a computer screen.1

The researchers determined the subjects’ blood sugar levels using a test called the hemoglobin A1c. It is a standard screening for diabetes. The HbA1c test reveals blood sugar levels over the past six to eight weeks.2

Researchers: Sugar Causes ‘Long-Term Cognitive Decline’

The scientists found that over time, people with increasing HbA1c scores saw their brain function deteriorate faster than those whose blood sugar levels remained stable. In other words, the higher their blood sugar, the faster their cognitive decline. This was true whether or not subjects had diabetes.3

The researchers concluded that there were “significant associations between HbA1c levels…and long-term cognitive decline.”4

Wuxiang Xie is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Peking University Health Science Center. He led the study.

He suggests that high blood sugar causes deterioration of brain areas involved in memory and cognitive functioning.

“Dementia is one of the most prevalent psychiatric conditions,” the professor noted. “Currently, dementia is not curable, which makes it very important to study risk factors.”5

The study recently was published in the journal Diabetologia.

 5 Foods that Control Blood Sugar

Sugar is far more dangerous than most people realize. Not only is it linked to memory loss and diabetes, but it’s also tied to a wide range of other serious conditions. They include heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, and liver disease.6

But there are foods that naturally control blood sugar levels. Eating them regularly will help keep your brain sharp and your body healthy.

  1. High-Fiber Foods. They fill you up without raising blood glucose levels. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that diabetics who ate 50 grams of fiber a day were able to better control their blood glucose.7Great fiber sources include raspberries, blackberries, avocados, peas, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, pears, and flaxseed.8
  1. Chia Seeds. These tiny seeds pack powerful health benefits. They stabilize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. Add them to salads and smoothies.9
  1. Cinnamon. A study in the journal Diabetes Care shows the spice increases your body’s ability to use insulin. This means your blood sugar levels don’t spike.
    One half teaspoon of organic Ceylon cinnamon, sometimes referred to as true cinnamon, has been shown to lower blood sugar by up to 20%. It also reduces triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol.10You can buy Ceylon cinnamon at health food stores and online.
  1. Apple Cider Vinegar. One study found that several drops mixed with water before a meal controls blood sugar and insulin spikes.
  1. Protien. Replacing pasta, rice, corn, potatoes, and other high-carb foods with protein fights hunger and keeps glucose levels low.

We’ve long recommended a type of low-carb eating called the Paleo Diet. Studies show it not only lowers blood sugar, but it reduces inflammation, helps you maintain muscle, lowers cancer risk, and improves sleep.

And don’t forget to move… Researchers at Arizona State University found that when overweight office workers reduced their sitting time, they lowered their blood sugar levels by an average of 5%. Try to get up from your desk at least once every half hour.

Editor’s Note: If you’re worried about staying mentally sharp, there’s something else you should know…

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