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Protect your memory: Eat Less Sugar

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Want to keep your mind nimble as you get older? Give that chocolate bar or can of pop a miss. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (February 2003), showed that middle-aged and elderly people with high blood sugar also had a smaller hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain

Want to keep your mind nimble as you get older? Give that chocolate bar or can of pop a miss. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (February 2003), showed that middle-aged and elderly people with high blood sugar also had a smaller hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain.

For every Alzheimer patient, eight older people suffer enough memory loss to significantly harm their quality of life even though they have no dementia-causing disease, said lead researcher Dr. Antonio Convit of New York University. Unlike other tissues, the brain depends on blood sugar for energy. The longer that glucose (sugar) stays in the bloodstream, the less fuel the brain has to store memories.

Scientists have already established a connection between type II diabetes and memory problems. Although the disease strikes mostly in middle age, anyone who is overweight and sedentary is at risk. The World Health Organization says sugar consumption is a major factor in obesity, and recently issued a report recommending people limit sugar intake-including syrups, honey and fruit juices-to no more than 10 per cent of their daily diet. It also recommends one hour of exercise daily, which helps clear sugar from the bloodstream.

Coincidence?

According to the World Health Organization, the average Canadian eats 40.2 kilograms of sugar per year-the average American, 32.6.

Canada has more donut shops per capita than any other country-one for every 9,000 people. Compare that with one US shop for every 26,000 Americans!

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