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Can Sugar Affect My Memory?

Fuzzy Memory

Americans consume refined sugars in astonishing amounts; one estimate calculates that the average American downs 135 pounds of sugar annually. For a quick visual, that’s 27 5-lb bags of Domino’s Crystals per person every year.

But, can sugar affect your memory? Refined sugar is known to cause brain inflammation, depletes tryptophan, slow thyroid function, depletes testosterone in men, and contributes to insulin resistance and dementia.

Will I Get Dementia From Having High Blood Sugar?

A high-carb diet, and the attendant high blood sugar, are associated with cognitive decline. It has been found that a high-carb diet can increase an individual’s risk of developing dementia by 84 percent.

Sugar-sweetened beverages increase the risk of diseases associated with dementia. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity — complications associated with consuming too many sugar-sweetened beverages — increase the risk of future dementia.

A longitudinal clinical study that spanned over ten years found that individuals with high blood sugar had a much faster cognitive decline rate than individuals with a normal blood sugar range. Those who suffered from type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than healthy individuals.

If your brain and the cells that make it up are surrounded by sugar, but they can’t get the energy they need because of insulin resistance, this creates a problem.

Individuals with higher blood sugar levels have more brain plaques than healthy individuals. Research studies have found that hyperglycemic conditions pose a 40% risk of damaging cerebral blood vessels and increasing plaque buildup in the brain.

The insulin-degrading enzyme is a product of insulin that breaks down both insulin and amyloid proteins in the brain. In the Alzheimer’s brain, abnormal levels of naturally occurring amyloid protein clump together to form plaques that collect between neurons and disrupt cell function.

People who don’t have enough insulin aren’t going to make enough of this enzyme to break up those brain plaques. Alternatively, people who use insulin to treat a condition like diabetes can end up with a surplus of insulin. In this case, most of the insulin-degrading enzyme gets used up, breaking the extra insulin down, not leaving enough enzyme to address the amyloid brain clumps.

Diabetes can also weaken the blood vessels, which increases the likelihood of having ministrokes in the brain, which can also lead to various forms of dementia.

The bottom line is that research continues to reveal associations between high sugar consumption and common mental disorders. Sugar intake from sweet foods and beverages has an adverse effect on long-term psychological health.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Healthier For My Brain?

packets of artificial sweeteners

Actually, artificial sweeteners come with their own laundry list of health risks. Sugar substitutes such as aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are chemically derived food additives containing such appetizing substances as bleach. Although researchers do not yet know the full extent of the damage they may cause, studies have linked artificial sweeteners to cancer, brain damage, and genetic mutations. Not exactly a healthy choice!

If this is not enough to deter you from sugar substitutes, these chemicals have been shown to alter brain chemistry so that it no longer associates sweetness with calories, thereby encouraging overeating. Combined with inherent metabolic deterrents, these substances actually contribute to weight gain.

What Should I Do to Protect My Memory?

Researchers have found that factors that protect the heart may also protect the brain and reduce the risk of developing dementia. Physical activity appears to be one of these factors.

In addition to physical activity, emerging evidence suggests that consuming a heart-healthy diet may be associated with reduced dementia risk. A heart-healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, chicken, nuts, legumes, and healthy fats such as olive oil while limiting saturated fats, red meat and sugar.

If you must have sugar, the keyword is moderation. Avoid eating processed foods and consuming sugary beverages, especially soda, and limit sweets. Use applesauce or turbinado sugar in baked goods.

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    Crave Control

If you want help in controlling your cravings for sugar and minimizing the risks, try our IP Formulas Crave Control. Crave Control contains key “neuro-nutrients” that supply the brain with raw materials required for average neurotransmitter production. With neurotransmitters at normal levels, cravings become fewer and weaker, thinking is clearer, and feelings are more positive and focused.

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Meet Dr. Dave

Dr. David Scheiderer MD, MBA, DFAPA, is the Chief Medical Officer and Director of Education for Integrative Psychiatry, Inc. 

An accomplished clinician, educator, and lecturer, Dr. Dave has established himself as a key opinion leader in the fields of both mainstream psychiatry and functional medicine. Dissatisfied with the patient outcomes using only conventional treatments, he began treating his patients by addressing biological imbalances with lifestyle improvements, nutrition and nutraceuticals to get better outcomes. His integrative approach provided much improved results. Dr. Dave is passionate about helping the community he serves by personalizing treatments and educating the public about mental health and healthy aging. He has formulated several of our supplements and sat on the advisory board for many others, ensuring the products we carry are based on science and experience and have the best efficacy rates and highest ingredient quality available.

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