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Sugar and Other Carbs May Be Damaging Your Memory, Among Several Crucial Brain Functions

    Contrary to Mary Poppins' advice, a "spoonful of sugar" may increase the need for medicine, rather than make it "go down in the most delightful way." Shutterstock
Natasha Hakimi Zapata
Assistant Editor and Poetry Editor
Natasha Hakimi Zapata is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American Literature at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. She also holds a Creative Writing M.F.A. from Boston University and both a…
Natasha Hakimi Zapata


It’s no secret that excess sugar intake can lead to diabetes, but the link that may not be so obvious is that the disease may cause dementia and wreak havoc on the hippocampus. A recent scientific study gives us yet another reason to steer clear of indulging in carbohydrates.

Scientific American via Salon:

A poor diet can eat away at brain health. Now a study in Neurology helps elucidate why. It suggests that eating a lot of sugar or other carbohydrates can be hazardous to both brain structure and function…

The new study sought to identify whether glucose had an effect on memory even in people without the disease because having it could induce other brain changes that confound the data. In the experiment, researchers at the Charité University Medical Center in Berlin evaluated both short- and long-term glucose markers in 141 healthy, nondiabetic older adults. The participants performed a memory test and underwent imaging to assess the structure of their hippocampus.

Higher levels on both glucose measures were associated with worse memory, as well as a smaller hippocampus and compromised hippocampal structure. The researchers also found that the structural changes partially accounted for the statistical link between glucose and memory. According to study co-author Agnes Flöel, a neurologist at Charité, the results “provide further evidence that glucose might directly contribute to hippocampal atrophy,” but she cautions that their data cannot establish a causal relation between sugar and brain health.

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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