The incredible shrinking brain

The incredible shrinking brain

It’s ironic when you think about it, but the same foods that can cause your belly to inflate like a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon can literally shrink your brain until it resembles an old prune.

That’s not just a cosmetic problem. A shrinking brain is a shrinking mind--and we have a term for brains that shrink the most: dementia.

But don’t get too comfortable with that word. And don’t replace it with the phrase “Alzheimer’s disease,” either, because researchers say they’ve got an even better term to describe what’s going on upstairs:


As I’ve said all along, blood sugar levels are critical to more than just your diabetes risk. They are essential for overall health and longevity--and cutting-edge research finds that insulin resistance can actually cause the brain shrink that’s linked to dementia.

That’s not even the scary part. Ready for it? Are you sure? The brain shrink kicks in at blood sugar levels the mainstream considers perfectly normal.

In the new study, researchers measured blood sugar levels and brain volume in 249 people between the ages of 60 and 64. All of them had “normal” blood sugar levels--but those on the high side of normal had abnormal brains.

Their brains were smaller--and shrinking all the time, specifically running low in the hippocampus and the amygdala. And yes, those are the parts of the brain needed for memory and cognition.

Now, if this was the first and only study of its kind, I’d call it a “good read” and promise to keep an eye on it for you. But I’ve been keeping an eye on this for years now, and the studies all point in the same direction: Anyone at risk for diabetes is also at risk for dementia.

Here are a few of the highlights:

• In 2010, Boston University researchers scanned the stomachs and brains of 733 older folks. Those with the highest levels of belly fat had the lowest brain volumes.

• In 2009, Swedish researchers found that women with the highest levels of belly fat in middle age had double the risk of dementia when they reached old age.

• A 2011 study found that diabetics have double the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a 75 percent increase in the odds of any kind of dementia at all.

• And just this summer, University of Pittsburgh researchers found that cognitive scores in diabetic seniors plunged over a decade when compared to seniors without the disease--and those who picked up diabetes during the course of the study quickly joined them in that cognitive slide.

That’s not all the research on this. That’s not even most of the research--that’s just some of the studies from the past couple of years.

But enough about the science (for now). The most important part of this is what it means for you--and it boils down to this: You can avoid “type 3” diabetes by following the same advice that will prevent type 2.

And that means singing a farewell song to all the carbs. I suggest you start composing it now--grab a guitar, light a bonfire and toss in all your breads, cereals, pasta, rice, potatoes, candy, cakes, and everything else high in carbohydrates.

Then, stock your fridge with butcher-fresh meats and other natural animal fats and proteins, including fresh dairy. These are the foods you crave anyway--and many of them are the foods you’ve been told not to eat.

Here’s your chance to finally enjoy these “guilty pleasures” without an ounce of guilt.

PS: Blood sugar is just one part of the picture when it comes to brain health. Low cholesterol levels can also cause memory loss and dementia--and that’s why many of the people who take statins have brains that leak like a sieve. The mainstream is finally catching up to me on the link between insulin levels and dementia risk. Don’t wait for them to realize I’m right about cholesterol, too--make sure your total cholesterol is between 200 and 300, and never take a statin.