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High normal glucose levels are gaining more and more attention and are being pointed at as the smoking gun for compromised brain health. In a study conducted at The Australian National University, 249 volunteers in their early 60’s with normal blood sugars were given brain scans at the beginning of the study and then again four years later.
When the researches compared the before and after images, there was a significant decrease in brain volume or brain shrinkage in the folks whose blood sugars were high, but still in the normal range as set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The volunteers who had high normal glucose levels (fasting glucose below 110 mg/dL) experienced reduced brain size by as much as 10% of the brain size compared to the size at the beginning of the study (4 years earlier). (1)
The study found decreased brain volume and atrophy of the brain in both the hippocampus, which controls long and short term memory, and the amygdala, which is responsible for emotional health.
High normal blood sugars in the blood can glycate, which means they clump together, sticking to proteins in the blood, becoming what are called advance glycation end products (AGEs). Studies show that AGEs may be the smoking gun for one’s chances of developing liver, kidney, heart or cognitive issues over time. (2-5)
The best way to determine if you have higher glycation levels than normal is with a test called a hemoglobin A1c test (HbA1c). The A1C test can determine a 3 month average of your blood sugar levels by calculating the amount of glycated hemoglobin molecules present. A high normal glucose level is 5.6%, but the goal should be a number at or less than 5.3%. While this test is very common, you may want to ask your doctor for it as an alternative screening for blood sugar.
The standard test for blood sugar is a fasting glucose test, typically taken first thing in the morning after 8-12 hours of fasting. Today, the normal levels in the US are set between 80 and 99 mg/dL. I suggest my patients to have the goal of keeping their fasting glucose levels between 70-85 mg/dL, or to keep their numbers in the 80’s.
In another study, published last August in the New England Journal of Medicine, folks who had blood sugar levels between 90-95mg/dL — which is still in the normal range — had an increased risk for dementia. (8) High-normal blood sugar and pre-diabetes are the silent epidemic of our time. Serious effort is required to reverse, course, and re-establish healthy blood sugar levels to prevent the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Download my free, comprehensive eBook, Blood Sugar Secrets for Health and Longevity, to learn how to balance your blood sugar levels for life.