Blood glucose, memory and dementia

Currently at the Las Vegas airport waiting for my return flight to Denver. This morning I attended the Chiari & Syringomyelia Foundation public meeting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. A section of my talk was on the Chiari/Pseudotumor Cerebri Syndrome, a challenging condition in which the Chiari I malformation and pseudotumor cerebri occur together.

In 2006, Dr. David Frim and colleagues at The University of Chicago described the syndrome in a study of 36 patients that had failed Chiari surgery. The study revealed 42% of these patients had associated pseudotumor cerebri (AKA: idiopathic intracranial hypertension), a condition of raised brain pressure of uncertain cause. 

Since one of the suspected causes of pseudotumor cerebri is inflammation, a question at the end of the presentation led to a discussion of the role of nutrition. While inflammation is a complex and not yet fully understood condition, information is developing on the neurological effects of sugar in our diet.  I mentioned two recent studies warning us that even mild elevation of blood glucose (above normal but not to the diabetic level) can hurt the brain.

One study showed that mildly elevated blood glucose can shrink the hippocampus, the key brain center for memory storage. The other study revealed mildly elevated blood glucose increases the risk of dementia. To learn more about these two studies, see my posts on