Blood Sugar monitor
Keeping the blood sugar under control can help avoid experiencing severe memory problems in old age, researchers say.rachellynnae©/Flickr

Keeping blood sugar under control can help avoid severe memory problems in old age, researchers say.

The study included 141 individuals (69 men, 72 women), aged around 63 years. All the participants were fully free from diabetes or pre-diabetes and were not heavy drinkers.  People with memory problems were excluded from the study. 

During the study, the German researchers measured the participants' memory skills by reading a list containing 15 words and noted down the number of words each participant recalled after 30 minutes. Blood glucose levels of the participants was tested and recorded. Using brain scan, they also measured and noticed the size of the brain area hippocampus that plays major role in memory. 

Lower levels of blood sugar were associated with better memory and greater volumes in the hippocampus. People with high blood sugar levels scored worse on memory tests and recalled very few words compared to others who had lower blood sugar levels.  Even a slight increase in HbA1c, a marker of glucose control lowered the ability to recall words.

 "These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age," said study author Agnes Flöel, MD, of Charité University Medicine in Berlin, Germany. "Strategies such as lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity should be tested."

The study has been published in the journal Neurology.

Following are some tips and foods that help improve memory:

  • Eat Breakfast, never skip it- Breakfast helps improve short-term memory and attention
  • Food rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids- Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain development. Fish oils, squid oil, algal oil and plant oils (echium and flaxseed oil) are some sources rich in omega 3 fatty acids
  • Leafy Greens rich with folate and B9
  • Foods Rich in Flavonoids- berries, nuts, beans, green, red vegetables
  • Include more food rich in vitamin E (Avocado, sunflower seeds, peanuts)
  • Coffee
  • Red wine
  • Dark Chocolate