The Simple Diet Tweak That Can Keep Your Brain Healthy

Elders who eat diets high in sugar are nearly four times as likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, a common precursor of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Mayo clinic tracked the eating patterns and cognitive capacity of more than 1,200 Americans aged 70 and older for several years. They discovered that those seniors who consumed more carbohydrates were more likely to experience issues with thinking, memory and judgment than those who ate diets with more protein and fat.

Does this mean that all sugar is bad for your brain?

No. In fact, you need sugar in order to think straight.

Depending on the time of day, research has shown that the human brain uses between 11 and 20 percent of the body’s available energy to operate smoothly. Much of this energy comes from glucose, a sugar found in carbohydrates and starches.

Glucose is essential for proper mental functioning, according to lead study author, Dr. Rosebud Roberts, Mayo Clinic Epidemiologist. “A high carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because it affects your metabolism and how glucose and insulin function in your brain,” she says.

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Diabetes of the brain?

The connection between glucose, insulin and brain processing has garnered much attention in recent years. Some medical professionals have even begun to refer to Alzheimer’s disease as, “type 3 diabetes.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, diabetics, as well as people who are insulin resistant, or who have consistently high blood sugar have an increased risk for cognitive problems because of:

Cell-damaging inflammation triggered by excessive blood sugar levels.
An inability for brain cells to absorb enough sugar to function properly.
An increased risk for stroke and heart disease, which can interfere with blood flow to the brain.

Research into the relationship between diabetes and dementia is still ongoing.

Good nutrition; it’s all about balance

Making healthier lifestyle choices may not be an Alzheimer’s panacea, but striving to eat a more nutritious diet can have a significantly positive effect on the physical and mental health of both caregivers and seniors.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean sticking to rabbit food and swearing off sweets.

As Roberts points out, a diet is determined by the sum of its individual parts. “It’s important that your dietary intake of fats, carbohydrates and proteins is balanced, because each of these macronutrients has a specific role in the body,” she says.

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The Easy Dietary Change That Could Save Your Brain originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

786 comments

Elisa F.
Elisa F.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Caroline Millington
.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog3 years ago

Thanks for sharing, I've always wondered about the negative effects of too much sugar on the brain, and seems like I was right in my thinking!

Ernie Miller
william Miller3 years ago

interesting I know the elderly I am around depend heavily on processed foods. Which is not good for any one

Alison A.
Alison A.3 years ago

Thanks for posting.

John van Nijnatten

Thanks for sharing!

Vera C.
Vera C.3 years ago

Balance is the word!
Thank you.

Valerie A.
Valerie A.3 years ago

Thanks

John van Nijnatten

Thanks for sharing.

Dottie Small
Dottie Small3 years ago

IT REALLY DOES MAKE LOTS OF SENSE. JUST REALLY SUCKS HARD AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY. I'M A VERY BAD GIRL, I KNOW I EAT TOO MANY SWEETS, NOT GOOD FOR ME I KNOW AND I CAN SEE HOW THINGS WOULD ONLY GET WORSE THE OLDER I GET. I CAN PROBABLY CUT BACK A GOOD BIT BUT I CANNOT GIVE IT UP TOTALLY. NO WAY ON THIS GREAT BIG BEAUTIFUL WORLD. I WILL WORK ON IT, AFTER ALL,MY MIND IS COUNTING ON ME.THANKS FOR THE USEFUL INFORMATION, I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IT THAT WAY BEFORE.