There is growing movement toward taking a pro-active approach to your mental health. Popular websites like Lumosity.com have shown that ‘brain training’ is an important part of keeping your mind sharp, for day-to-day tasks and as you age. The research also highlights that certain health markers are critical for assessing your risk for poor brain health. A simple blood test can help you determine where you stand.
Did you know that cognitive decline could start affecting all of us from the age of 40 onwards and that at the age of 60 one in eight people can have significant cognitive decline. Shockingly, by the time you’re 80 years old… 50% people will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. Currently, conventional medicine says there is no cure for this disease.
Dr. David Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist and expert in brain health, released his book The Grain Bain this year that highlighted new research showing the potential pitfalls of chronically high blood sugars on your brain health. He cited an important study in the New England Journal of Medicine that suggests there may be a lot you can do to keep your brain vibrant and healthy.
The authors discovered that individuals with the highest average blood sugar levels - as measure by hemoglobin A1c (HA1c), your three-month average of blood sugars - had the greatest decline in cognitive health. In fact, those with the highest levels were almost seven times more likely to develop dementia, as they got older! However, there is an even more interesting twist to these results.
You would expect the people with high blood sugars must have been diabetic or pre-diabetic or that their results were OUTSIDE the normal ranges found on lab test results? Not so. In this study, individuals who were almost seven times more likely to develop dementia typically had high blood sugars within the normal range (high end of normal). This is truly alarming. How can you be within the ‘normal range’ and still be at such an increased risk of cognitive decline? It seems we need a higher standard for blood sugar health.
However, there is good news for you and your brain. If you keep your blood sugar levels within OPTIMAL ranges you can reduce the process of glycation – whereby sugars react with proteins and created inflammation – and therefore keep your brain sharp and running on all cylinders. Simply ask your doctor to run your HA1c (hemoglobin A1c) levels to see where you stand. High levels are associated with increased inflammation, increased production of free radicals, and even brain shrinkage!
Once you have your baseline levels, the best way to balance blood sugars is diet and exercise. Start by LOWERING YOUR INTAKE OF CARBOHYDRATES (especially simple sugars, fruit juice, and processed foods) and increasing your intake protein and healthy fats intake. Be sure to include protein and healthy fats at each meal. Cut out the starchy carbs like bread, pasta, and cereals and replace them with cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Next, start adding MORE MOVEMENT to your day by walking for 20-30 minutes daily. This can be done first thing in the morning and after dinner, and you try the ‘Fit-Bit’ to see if you can achieve 10,000 steps per day. If you already exercising, add 1-2 weight training sessions per week, as this is a quick and efficient way to balance blood sugars.
Join the new frontier in health and be pro-active about your health. Ask your naturopath or doctor about getting tested so that you can track your progress year after year. Getting baseline measurements is a great first step to taking your health into your own hands. Your first step to building a BETTER BRAIN is keeping your blood sugars in. Get started today so you can supercharge your brain, your focus, and your health!
Yours in health,
Dr Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS
Check out more articles in the "BLOOD SUGARS" SERIES...
- The Problem With Mainstream Diabetes Recommendations (And How To Fix It)
- Increased Blood Sugars = Increased Cancer Risk
- Why Is Low-Carb Approach Best For Fat Loss?
- What's The Best Afternoon Snack?
1) Crane, P. et al. Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia. N Engl J Med 2013; 369:540-548