Blood Sugar Levels, Diabetes, Senior Moments and Regular Exercise

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Blood Sugar Levels and "Senior Moments"

Western Mail

01-02-09

RAISED blood sugar levels may be to blame for memory lapses or so-called "senior moments" that commonly occur with increasing age, a new study has shown.

The research suggests even in healthy individuals with no hint of diabetes, keeping blood sugar under control could be the key to preventing lapses in memory.  It also found that regular physical exercise and eating the right diet may help prevent older people from suffering embarrassing and sometimes dangerous memory losses.

Dr. Scott Small, from Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, who led the research, had previously shown that one area of the hippocampus called the "dentate gyrus" was mainly responsible for normal age-related memory decline.

In the new study, his team conducted brain scans of human volunteers and animals to find out what was affecting this part of the brain.  The scientists discovered that reduced activity was closely linked to higher levels of blood sugar.

"There have been many proposed reasons for age-related hippocampal decline.

This new study suggests that we may now know one of them.  Beyond the obvious conclusion that preventing late-life disease would benefit the ageing hippocampus, our findings suggest that maintaining blood sugar levels, even in the absence of diabetes, could help maintain aspects of cognitive health.

"More specifically, our findings predict that any intervention that causes a decrease in blood glucose should increase dentate gyrus function and would therefore be cognitively beneficial."

The new findings appear in the December issue of the journal Annals Of Neurology.

Dr. Marcelle Morrison-Bogorad, director of neuroscience at the US National Institute on Ageing, which co-funded the study, said: "While more research is needed into the complex interaction of late-life disease and how it may affect the hippocampus, this new study is part of an ongoing effort to identify specific areas where interventions might preserve cognitive health."

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