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Eating Less Sugar May Help Preserve Memory

Update Date: Oct 24, 2013 03:49 PM EDT

Cutting down on sweets may help preserve memory, a new study suggests.

New research reveals that people with higher blood sugar levels are more likely to have memory problems, leading scientists to suggest that maintaining low sugar levels in the blood is good for the brain. This is also true for people who don't have diabetes or high blood sugar.

The latest study involved 141 people with an average age of 63. Participants included in the study did not have diabetes or pre-diabetes. The study also excluded people who were overweight, drank more than three-and-a-half servings of alcohol a day or had memory and thinking problems.

The findings revealed that people with high levels of blood sugar were significantly less able to recall a list of 15 words half an hour after hearing them.

Further analysis revealed that an increase of about seven mmol/mol of a long-term marker of glucose control called HbA1c was associated with recalling two fewer words.

Besides measuring participants' memory skills and blood glucose levels, researchers also had participants undergo brain scans. They found that people with higher blood sugar levels also had smaller volumes in the hippocampus, an area in the brain that plays an important role in memory.

"These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age," study author Agnes Flöel, MD, of Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany, said in a news release.

"Strategies such as lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity should be tested," he added.

The findings are published in the journal Neurology

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