Adults with type 2 diabetes who eat unhealthy, high-fat meals may experience memory declines, a new study from Baycrest has indicated.
However, the study also suggested that taking high doses of antioxidant vitamins C and E with the meal might help minimize those memory slumps.
"Our bottom line is that consuming unhealthy meals for those with diabetes can temporarily further worsen already underlying memory problems associated with the disease," said lead author Michael Herman Chui, who conducted the research as a University of Toronto pathobiology undergraduate in the Kunin-Lunenfeld Applied Research Unit (KLARU) at Baycrest.
"We've shown that antioxidant vitamins can minimize oxidative stress from the meal and reduce those immediate memory deficits," he added.
There is already growing evidence linking diabetes to cognitive complications in humans.
Adults with type 2 diabetes are especially vulnerable to acute meal-induced memory deficits after eating unhealthy foods.
In the study, 16 adults (aged 50 years and older) with type 2 diabetes participated in an unblinded trial where they attended three weekly sessions that involved consuming a different test meal.
One meal consisted of high fat products and the second meal consisted of only water consumption; and the third test meal was the high-fat meal plus high doses of vitamins C and E tablets.
Fifteen minutes after starting meal ingestion, participants completed a series of neuropsychological tests lasting 90 minutes that measured their recall abilities for words they had heard and paragraph information they had read.
These cognitive skills are associated with the brain's memory centre - the hippocampus.
The study showed that vitamin supplementation consistently improved recall scores relative to the meal alone.
Participants who ate the high fat meal without vitamin supplements showed significantly more forgetfulness of words and paragraph information in immediate and time delay recall tests, relative to those who had the water meal or the meal with antioxidant vitamins.
Those on water meal and meal with vitamins showed similar levels in cognitive performance.
The study is published in the July issue of Nutrition Research.