The participants'' memory skills were tested, along with their blood glucose, or sugar, levels. Participants also had brain scans to measure the size of the hippocampus area of the brain, which plays an important role in memory.
People with lower blood sugar levels were more likely to have better scores on the memory tests. On a test where participants needed to recall a list of 15 words 30 minutes after hearing them, recalling fewer words was associated with higher blood sugar levels. For example, an increase of about seven mmol/mol of a long-term marker of glucose control called HbA1c went along with recalling two fewer words. People with higher blood sugar levels also had smaller volumes in the hippocampus.
"These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age," said study author Agnes Floel, MD, of Charite University Medicine in Berlin, Germany. "Strategies such as lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity should be tested."
The study was supported by the German Research Foundation, the Else Kraner-Fresenius Foundation and the German Ministry of Education and Research.
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