High blood sugar and diabetes are known to bring a host of potential negative health consequences, particularly as we age, but science is just getting down to parsing the nuance that exists in regards to the long-term consequences of blood sugar fluctuations and cognitive health.
A new study on the effects blood sugar has on brain shrinkage and dementia explored the link, and found that even within normal range, higher blood sugar can have deleterious effects on brain health. A study published in the September 4 issue of the journal of the American Association of Neurology, Neurology, indicates that blood sugar may be an important factor in preventing the onset of dementia in people with Type 2 diabetes.
The small blood sugar study included 249 people aged 60 to 64, all defined as being within the “normal” range of blood sugar as defined by the World Health Organization.
According to Science Daily, participants with “higher fasting blood sugar levels within the normal range and below 6.1 mmol/l (or 110 mg/dL) were more likely to have a loss of brain volume in the areas of the hippocampus and the amygdala,” the regions of the brain that affect memory and cognition.
Fasting blood sugar levels of 10.0 were considered to be diabetic, while 6.1 or higher fell into the “impaired” category or were classified as being a symptom of prediabetes. Study author Nicolas Cherbuin, PhD, of the Australian National University in Canberra, commented on the findings:
“These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health … More research is needed, but these findings may lead us to re-evaluate the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes.”