Summary: Physical exercise helps you maintain normal blood sugar levels, and may reduce your risk of memory loss.
In my last post, I wrote about how reduced blood flow to aging brains decreases the amount of glucose available to brain cells. This may trigger a series of events contributing to Alzheimer’s. But just as too little glucose is a problem, too much can also be harmful.
Scott A. Small, MD
A new study by Dr. Scott Small and colleagues at Columbia University links age-related increases in blood sugar [glucose] to damage in an area of the brain called the dentate gyrus. The dentate gyrus is part of the hippocampus, an area thought to be involved with short term memory. The researchers think this may explain how high blood sugar, even in people without full-blown diabetes, can contribute to “normal” age-related memory loss.
Exercise, which is the best way to increase blood flow and glucose supply to aging brains, may also be the best way to keep glucose levels from getting too high. It’s possible that exercising may prevent memory loss in other ways, too. The Columbia University researchers have previously shown that exercise appears to help the dentate gyrus form new brain cells. “Physical exercise is likely a good thing for both glucose handling and for cognitive aging,” says Dr. Small.