well maybe i should start eating more sugar!!!!
Low blood sugar in brain linked to memory loss, study says
By Lauran Neergaard
Feb. 15, 2003
WASHINGTON - Losing your memory in old age sometimes may have nothing to do with Alzheimer's and lots to do with blood sugar.
So suggests new research that found that people who don't process blood sugar normally, a silent, pre-diabetic condition, are likely to suffer poor memory and even a shrinkage of the brain region crucial for recall.
The good news: If the small study from New York University is confirmed, simple diet and exercise could help many people protect their brains from the fogged memory associated with aging.
Maybe the threat of memory loss, an oft-cited fear among aging baby boomers, will provide the final push for people to take those steps, lead researcher Antonio Convit says.
"That's a great motivator to stay off the calories and stay off the couch," he said.
For every Alzheimer's patient, there are eight older people who suffer enough memory loss to harm their quality of life yet have no dementia-causing disease, said Convit, an NYU psychiatry professor.
Blood sugar was a natural suspect because scientists have long known that diabetics are at higher-than-normal risk for memory problems, possibly because diabetes harms blood vessels that supply the brain, heart and other organs.
The new study, to be published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people's memory may be harmed long before they develop full-fledged diabetes and that it's a problem of fuel, not plumbing.
Convit studied 30 non-diabetic middle-age and elderly people. He measured how they performed on memory tests; how quickly they metabolized blood sugar after a meal; and the size of the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for recent memory.
The slower those people metabolized blood sugar, the worse their memory was, and the smaller their hippocampus was, Convit found.
Unlike most other tissues that have multiple fuel sources, the brain depends on blood sugar for almost all of its energy, Convit said. The longer that glucose stays in the bloodstream instead of being metabolized into body tissues, the less fuel the brain has to store memories.
Convit's research found no specific threshold at which memory worsened. Instead it was a spectrum: The slower the glucose metabolism, the worse people did.
Once that metabolism reaches certain levels, it becomes a condition called "impaired glucose tolerance," or pre-diabetes, thought to afflict 16 million Americans. It strikes mostly in middle age, although people of any age who are overweight and sedentary are at risk. Without treatment, pre-diabetes usually turns into full-fledged diabetes, which in turn brings deadly heart attacks and kidney failure.
Why did only the memory-crucial hippocampus seem harmed? Previous animal and human research shows it's the region most likely damaged by any brain insult, Convit said. Conversely, it also is an adjustable region, with the potential for some recovery if people bring their blood sugar under control, he said.
Convit's study sheds light on yet another risk of bad blood sugar, said Dr. Fran Kaufman, president of the American Diabetes Association.
If confirmed, the same advice for lowering people's diabetes risk, drop a few pounds and exercise, would help people's brains, too, Kaufman said.