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Eating lots of carbohydrate, sugar may raise risk of cognitive impairment: study

(Xinhuanet.com)

10:05, October 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- People of age 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have a high risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar, according to a U.S. study published this week in the online version of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Researchers tracked 1,230 people aged 70 to 89 who provided information on what they ate during the previous year. Their cognitive function was first evaluated by an expert panel of physicians, nurses and neuropsychologists.

Of those participants, only roughly 940 who showed no signs of cognitive impairment were asked to return for follow-up evaluations of their cognitive function. About four years into the study, 200 of those 940 were beginning to show mild cognitive impairment -- problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes.

Those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake at the beginning of the study were 1.9 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest intake of carbohydrates. Participants with the highest sugar intake were 1.5 times likelier to experience mild cognitive impairment than those with the lowest intake.

"A high carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism," said the study's lead author Rosebud Roberts, an epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Sugar fuels the brain -- so moderate intake is good. However, high levels of sugar may actually prevent the brain from using the sugar -- similar to what we see with type 2 diabetes."

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