This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Scientists at Charité University Medical Centre in Berlin have found eating large amounts of sugar or carbohydrates is linked to a smaller hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory. This could explain why they also discovered that high levels of blood glucose are associated with impaired memory and could potentially lead to dementia. Thus, sugar can harm both brain structure and function.
Diabetes, a condition characterized by chronically elevated blood sugar, is linked to a higher risk of dementia and reduced hippocampus size. In view of these facts, the study sought to determine the effects of sugar on people who don’t have the illness. Researchers monitored the long- and short-term glucose levels of 141 non-diabetic adults as well as imaged their brain with an MRI scan and tested their memory. They found higher levels of glucose were linked to shrinkage of the hippocampus and impaired memory. The results suggest sugar can alter brain structure and harm memory even in people who don’t have diabetes.
Earlier Research Shows Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Refined Carbs Hinder Brain Function
The research builds upon a study conducted two years ago at UCLA that showed the effects on the brain of high-fructose corn syrup, a common sweetener present in many foods. Researchers first allowed rats to spend a few days learning how to get through a maze. The next phase of the study involved feeding them a fructose solution for six weeks and then putting them back in the maze to see how well they could remember how to navigate it. The findings showed their memory of how to perform this activity was significantly impaired, and their brains showed a reduction in synaptic activity, which is the means the cells use to communicate with each other.
A great deal of solid scientific research shows cognitive decline can, indeed, take place as a result of consuming sugar and refined carbohydrates — even in small amounts, David Platt, Ph.D., CEO of Boston Therapeutics, tells Live in the Now. “In these studies, the consumption of sugar and carbs has been established as a definite risk factor in damaging both memory and thinking skills.”
“Just this year, for example, Mayo Clinic researchers found that people aged 70 and older who consume food high in carbs increase their likelihood of developing mild cognitive impairment fourfold, and the danger is also present with a diet heavy in sugar. Moreover, in 2009, a team at Wake Forest University established that cognitive functioning abilities decrease as average blood sugar levels increase in people with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, many people are not fully aware of these conclusions, but they are as important to know as the dangers of cigarette smoking.”