In September 2012, Australian researchers published findings showing blood glucose at the high end of normal resulted in significant brain shrinkage.1,2 The shrinkage occurred in regions of the brain (hippocampus and amygdala) involved in memory and other critical functions. Atrophy (shrinkage) in these brain areas worsens memory.1,2
For this study, neuroscientists at Australian National University in Canberra studied 249 people in their early 60s. Each of them had blood sugar levels in the normal range. The study subjects’ brains were scanned at the beginning of the study, and again four years later.
Comparing the before and after images, the researchers found significant brain shrinkage among those whose blood sugar levels were high but still below the World Health Organization’s threshold for prediabetes (fasting glucose under 110 mg/dL). The researchers report that these high- normal levels may account for a 6% to 10% decrease in the volume of the hippocampus and amygdala.
The lead researcher stated, “It is this chronic exposure to high glucose levels that is more likely to lead to poorer brain health.” He cautioned that these findings should not be taken “lightly,” as the association between high- normal blood sugar and brain shrinkage was “robust.”1,2
This reinforces the need for people to suppress excess blood glucose
Fasting and post-meal glucose goals to aim for:
Fasting glucose: under 80 mg/dL
Post-meal glucose: under 120 mg/dL