Dementia: too much sugar damages the brain

A recent study, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, indicates that excessive blood sugar, even in non-diabetics, is associated with a significant increase in the risk of loss of cognitive functions and the onset of dementia. .

  • Excess sugar harms the brain
  • Easily control blood sugar
  • Every day, we consume added sugar in a host of industrial products, especially those in junk food. This excess of sugar is a very bad habit, because:

    – it provides an average surplus of 345 calories, while being devoid of nutrients;

    – this excess energy is converted by the liver into fat and therefore leads to an increase in body weight.

    – the repeated consumption of excess sugar, especially when combined with overweight, disrupts the mechanisms of sugar management in the blood and causes a state of chronic hyperglycemia.

    It is therefore not surprising that the marked increase in the intake of simple sugars that has occurred over the past few decades is associated with a host of health problems such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease (Soda Disease) as well as type 2 diabetes. high risk of several serious illnesses that compromise both the quality and the life expectancy.

    Excess sugar harms the brain

    In addition to its negative impacts on metabolism, it appears that excess blood sugar is also associated with impaired cognitive function. For example, studies have shown that people affected by type 2 diabetes have a 50% higher risk of being affected by certain dementias (Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia).

    To examine this relationship in more detail, a group of American researchers measured the blood glucose levels in 2067 people (average age 76) over a period of 7 years and examined in parallel the appearance of cognitive problems using specialized tests.

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    They first confirmed that people with diabetes who have high blood sugar (10.5 mmol per litre) have a 40% higher risk of dementia than those whose blood sugar is better controlled (8.9 mmol per litre). However, and this is the main finding of the study, they also highlighted that non-diabetics whose blood sugar levels were higher than normal were also at greater risk.

    For example, blood sugar slightly above normal (6.4 vs. 5.5 mmol per litre) is associated with an 18% increased risk of dementia. In other words, even a slight excess of blood sugar damages the brain and accelerates the loss of cognitive function that accompanies aging.

    Easily control blood sugar

    These observations illustrate how important it is to maintain normal blood sugar levels for a long and healthy life. Fortunately, several very simple lifestyle changes can prevent hyperglycemia:

    – Choose your carbohydrates wisely. The simple sugars present in large quantities in industrial products are quickly assimilated and force the pancreas to secrete a large quantity of insulin. Over time, this mechanism becomes less efficient and residual amounts of sugar remain in circulation.

    The carbohydrates present in dietary fibers and complex starches (vegetables, legumes and whole grains) are assimilated much more slowly and lead to a lower production of insulin, which spares the function of the pancreas.

    – Maintain a normal body weight. Overweight and obesity create inflammatory conditions that prevent cells from properly assimilating sugar in response to the signal from insulin (insulin resistance). There is no miracle diet for weight loss, but a good starting point is to avoid high-calorie industrial foods as much as possible and to adopt a diet mainly composed of plant products such as fruits and vegetables and whole grains. .

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    – Physical exercise. The muscles in action are veritable “pumps” for sugar and regular physical exercise is essential for maintaining normal blood sugar levels.


    Crane PK et al. “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia,” N Engl J Med; 369: 540-8

    Read also: Excess sugar: appearance of prediabetes and increase in cancer


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