Middle-aged and elderly people with high blood sugar levels have a smaller hippocampus region of their brains, that regulates a person's ability to remember facts and events, according to a study from New York University.

If the findings can be confirmed by other future studies, healthy lifestyle changes could help many people protect themselves from becoming senile. High blood sugar levels damage every tissue in your body. Diabetics are at high risk for loss of memory because diabetes damages blood vessels that supply the brain, heart and other organs. This new study shows that diabetics may suffer loss of memory long before they are diagnosed as having diabetes.

Dr. Antonio Convit studied 30 non-diabetic middle-aged and elderly people. He measured how they performed on several memory tests; how quickly they metabolized blood sugar after a meal; and, using MRI scans, the size of a part of the brain called the hippocampus. The higher their blood sugar levels rose after meals, the worse their memory was, and the smaller their hippocampus was.

Why did the researchers at New York University suspect that high blood sugar levels damage primarily the part of the brain called the hippocampus? Because diabetes affects a person's ability to remember, and memory is controlled in the hippocampus. The damage caused to the hippocampus can be reversed when high blood sugar levels are brought to normal.

Get a blood test for diabetes called HBA1C; if it is greater than 6.0, you're headed for brain damage. To keep your memory intact, avoid refined carbohydrates, maintain your weight where it belongs and get plenty of exercise. See report #D222.

Dr. Antonio Convit of New York University. published in the February issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2003

Checked 3/9/07

Get our newsletter