Even Slight Elevation Of Blood Sugar Threaten Brain Health

In the study described in this video, researchers showed how levels of blood sugar directly relate to risk for dementia. The investigation followed over 2,000 elderly individuals for an average of 6.8 years and found that even small elevations of blood sugar translated into a significant increased risk for dementia, even among persons without diabetes.

The implications of this report are profound. While the correlation of dementia risk, and specifically Alzheimer’s disease, with diabetes has been established, this new finding throws a much wider net in terms of defining an at risk population for an incurable brain disorder. But despite the potential public health impact of these findings, this correlation received almost no media attention.

Nonetheless, you are now empowered by this knowledge. Simply stated, lower blood sugar translates to lower risk for dementia, a disease for which current medical science can provide no treatment whatsoever. A diet that’s higher in fat and lower in carbs and sugar will help keep blood sugar levels down and reduce your risk for brain degeneration. It’s that simple.

When I described sugar and carbs as “Your Brain’s Silent Killers” as the subtitle of Grain Brain, I did so based upon science like this study that have fundamentally changed our understanding of dietary choices that will either foster disease or preserve brain health and functionality.

  • HighlandHoney

    Sugar and processed carbs are killers!

  • Ozzie

    We have been forewarned. Applying the knowledge is another matter.

    • David Perlmutter

      Certainly true Ozzie. I can only share information, it is up to all of you to make decisions.

  • Bill DeWitt

    My extended family has been devastated by diabetes and dementia in the last 20 years. I tried to inform them, but the general tone of their own doctors made them refuse to listen. I’m so glad there is finally starting to be some epidemiological evidence to support the disease mechanisms which have been so long known to the LC community.

  • Thank you very much.

    • David Perlmutter

      Happy to share.

  • katansey

    These brief videos are so helpful — thank you for producing material that is easy to understand while at the same time science based.

    • David Perlmutter

      Very happy to share.

  • trish lapis

    Thank you , I appreciate these short spots. However, might you address the T2 diabetic who is on the preferred diet trying to cut back on medication.

    • David Perlmutter

      That would be a decision to be made in conjunction with your physician, and is not something I could truly offer comment on.

      Glad to know you are enjoying these videos. I will continue to try to share 1/week.

  • Max

    Recognizing that elevated blood sugar is bad for the brain, what level (reading) should one strive for?

    • TechnoTriticale

      > Recognizing that elevated blood sugar is bad for the brain,
      > what level (reading) should one strive for?

      Keeping in mind that opinions on this vary, and are being refined over time, here’s what I’ve gleaned from Grain Brain and the Wheat Belly books and blogs …

      What kind of meter do you have?

      If you have the typical glucometer, shoot for under 90 mg/dl fasting, and ideally no rise postprandial, or no higher than 100. If you’re hitting this target at every meal, the HbA1c is apt to be under control. It doesn’t take much cheating (like any) to derail the HbA1c.

      If you have an HbA1c meter, the Brain Grain book suggests 5.0-5.5%, but I’m getting the impression this target value may be revised down to at or slightly below 5.0%.

      These are not the sole metrics for a healthy diet (there may never be any single number), but they are useful markers (absent any ailments that include adverse hypoglycemia).

  • Clark Newton

    This post is not in regard to sugar but just a question about Bulletproof coffee. Is Bulletproof coffee a good idea. I have reviewed a few other sites and found those who have promoted higher fats and mcts think it is good for your brain. What is your view?

  • gadrogeek

    Okay, so we need to have a serious discussion about Type 3 Diabetes. And we also need to consider the results of treating Alzheimer’s patients with coconut oil. Can ketones replace glucose in the brain to re-establish “normal” activity? I find it very disconcerting that this fine doctor is stating there is no cure. This leads to the current zeitgeist in modern medicine which involves “everything in moderation” and we can only “manage our conditions”. The pharmaceutical industry loves this! Let’s provide “drugs” to help delay the onset or the worsening of the conditions.

    Everyone has probably noticed the growing list of “disclaimers” at the end of ads for this or that drug (re: side effects, including death).

    Where are the FDA and Health Canada in all this?

    In Canada we have the Heart & Stroke Foundation promoting “foods” that are simply “unhealthy” (e.g. containing high fructose corn syrup and modern wheat). These lead to Type 2 diabetes and obesity. And yet the government is actually subsidizing these companies.

    How many major organizations (e.g. Cancer, Parkinsons) rely on industry, government and public funding to survive, all the while telling us that with enough money we will someday find the “cure”? Isn’t it past the time when we take responsibility ourselves (e.g. by controlling what we eat)?

    These short videos are great, but WE need to take action.

  • Kathleen Timothy Pastina

    Thank you Dr. ! Feeling better with the grain brain diet!

  • Carolyn

    My 60 year old sister is in a nursing home with rapidly progressing dementia. How do you convince staff to change her diet? They have her on Gatorade and ensure since she has trouble feeding herself.

    • TechnoTriticale

      > … nursing home with rapidly progressing dementia.
      > How do you convince staff to change her diet?

      Some possible alternatives:

      1. Move her to a facility with a saner diet (very few may exist today), or at least one that’s more responsive to family requests for modifications.

      2. Get an MD to write an order for the desired diet. Dr. Perlmutter might have some insight on whether this is ever done, or works. Finding a cooperative MD could be a challenge.

      3. Do your convincing at the highest levels in the facility. The aides and nurses can do nothing. Kitchen staff also have their hands tied. Any consulting nutritionist is also apt to not have sufficient degrees of freedom (and most will be robot SAD advocates anyway). Facility management would probably defer to corporate policy, or whatever their consulting MD says (so you’re back at #2 again).

      This is a tough situation, and a main reason why those not confined need to fix their diets while they are free to act, and thus avoid ending up getting euthanized by the Standard of Care in today’s long term care facilities.

  • Marion Davis, Jr.

    Thank you, Dr. Perlmutter, for your outstanding contribution to whole body health with special emphasis on brain health that becomes paramount to quality of life as we age. Following your recommendations have, without a doubt, led to weight loss, improved cognitive function and many other benefits for me. I believe the beauty of your program is the relatively quick and sustained improvement,and even elimination, of many health problems.

    While I find your ongoing contributions interesting and informative, I see that the graphs provided are sometimes without a labeled “Y” axis. If dementia risk in this graph is measured in “percent,” it turns out to be a relatively modest increase that might even be invalidated if margin of error was considered. It would be helpful if labels were included. I will appreciate any comments you have about this.

    Yet, without question, the core of your program provides the tools to dramatically improve quality of life. My wife and I, along with friends and family we’ve recommended it to, attest to that fact. Thank you again!

  • MikeR

    Hi Dr. Perlmutter,
    After observing 2 relatives suffer with Alzheimer’s – I read your book. I’ve removed sugar/sweets from my diet and I’m weaning myself off gluten and carbs. I immediately lost 5 pounds. Problem is – I don’t want to lose weight. I’m 6′ 175 and exercise regularly. I find myself forcing down food just to keep from losing any more weight.
    Any suggestions?

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  • Gabriella

    Thank you Dr. Perlmutter for changing my health for the better! I’m anxiously awaiting the release of The Grain Brain Cookbook in Canada!

  • smn

    I have fasting glucose of 120 and A1C of 5.1.
    I eat under 10% of my diet as carbs, 50% fat and 40% protein. I do not eat anything white – no potatoes, no rice, no pasta, no cereal.
    Why is my fasting glucose always high? My doctor is worried about it but it just does not budge month to month.

  • Annemiek

    Since I was a teenager I am reading about the impact from food on the body. Now I am 60 years old and the mind still boggles.


    Might it be that food does what we BELIEVE it does to the body? I just dont know anymore.

  • JohnS

    I would like your opinion on juicing. After finding out that fruit sugar also puts us at risk.

  • Hilda

    Have you seen the research linking glaucoma to elevated blood sugar? Here is a link—http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877(14)00051-6/abstract?cc=y?cc=y

  • Marianne

    Dr. Perlmutter ~ Do you recommend using a blood glucose meter monitor if you have elevated blood sugar but not diabetic? Mine has creeped up to 5.9-6.2 Hgb A1c test.
    Monitor vs blood glucose test strips? Thanks :~)

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