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High Levels of Glucose Impair Brain Function

Glucose Comments by J. C. Spencer

The sugar glucose may have a more negative impact on dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain functions than previously thought.  A recent UK study shows that the sugar glucose effects cognitive brain function.  While glucose is important for cell function, higher levels of blood glucose were associated with impaired memory performance.

On our thirty minute Conference Call of June 5 (replay available from the Home Page of The Endowment for Medical Research website - www.endowmentmed.org), I discussed briefly how molecules that appear identical may have drastically different function simply because of the bond, the angle of the bond and a series of other possible factors.

Tthe Sugar  Trehalose The healthful sugar trehalose is two glucose molecules bonded together with one molecule turned upside down.  Because this bond is not easily broken, not only does it not seem to impact negatively the sugar levels in the blood or impair memory performance, TREHALOSE APPEARS TO IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION.

TREHALOSE PLAYS A POSITIVE ROLE IN COGNITIVE BRAIN FUNCTION WITH THE beta-amyloid 40 and 42 as in Alzheimer's.  The abstract of that science paper is posted on our website in the Sugar Science Forum under Trehalose Science Papers and in the News Section under Alzheimer’s.

The new Abstract about glucose impairing memory performance:
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European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication 13 February 2008; doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602981

The effects of glucose ingestion and glucose regulation on memory performance in older adults with mild cognitive impairment

Contributors: All authors have contributed to the design, planning and analyses of data. LMR and JS were responsible for the day-to-day running of the non-MCI testing and AM, RB and JH for the MCI data collection. All authors contributed significantly to the final version of the paper.

L M Riby 1, A Marriott 2, R Bullock 2, J Hancock 2, J Smallwood 3 and J McLaughlin 4

1 Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, UK
2 The Kingshill Research Centre, Victoria Hospital, Swindon, UK\
3 Department of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
4 Department of Psychology, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Correspondence: Dr LM Riby, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Northumberland Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK. E-mail: [email protected]



Previous research investigating the impact of glucose ingestion and/or improvements in glucose regulation has found selective cognitive facilitation on episodic memory tasks in successful ageing and dementia. The present study aimed to extend this research to mild cognitive impairment (MCI).


In a repeated-measures design, 24 older adults with and 24 older adults without MCI performed a battery of memory and attention tasks after 25 g of glucose or a sweetness matched placebo. In addition, to assess the impact of individual differences in glucose regulation, blood glucose measurements were taken throughout the testing session.


Consistent with previous research, cognitive facilitation was observed for episodic memory tasks only in both successful ageing and MCI. Older adults with MCI had a similar glucose regulatory response as controls but their fasting levels were elevated. Notably, higher levels of blood glucose were associated with impaired memory performance in both the glucose and placebo conditions. Importantly, both blood glucose and memory performance indices were significant predictors of MCI status.


The utility of glucose supplementation and the use of glucose regulation as a biological marker are discussed in relation to these data.

Last Updated ( Jun 09, 2008 at 11:22 AM )