Need another reason to cut the carbs and sugar? New Mayo Clinic research has found eating lots of carbs, sugar may raise the risk of memory loss, clouded thinking, and other cognitive impairments.
The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, also found seniors whose diets are high in fat and protein fare better mentally than those who load up on sugary, carb-heavy foods.
"A high carbohydrate intake could be bad for you because carbohydrates impact your glucose and insulin metabolism," said lead researcher Dr. Rosebud Roberts, a Mayo Clinic epidemiologist. "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."SPECIAL: Stop Your Sugar Addiction With These 4 Tips
Roberts said the findings underscore the importance of a well-rounded diet: "We think it's important that you eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, because each of these nutrients has an important role in the body."
For the study, researchers tracked the diets and cognitive abilities of 1,230 people — ages 70 to 89. About four years into the study, 200 of the study participants began to show mild cognitive impairment, problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgment at levels that exceeded normal age-related changes.
Those who reported the highest carbohydrate intake were 1.9 times likelier to develop problems than those with the lowest intake. Participants with the highest sugar intake were also 1.5 times likelier to experience impairments than those with the lowest levels.
But those whose diets were highest in fat — compared to the lowest — were 42 percent less likely to have mental problems, and those who had the highest intake of protein had a reduced risk of 21 percent.
When total fat and protein intake were taken into account, people with the highest carbohydrate intake were 3.6 times likelier to develop mild cognitive impairment.
The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging. SPECIAL: Stop Your Sugar Addiction With These 4 Tips