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Defeat Diabetes Foundation

Fatty Foods Cause Memory Loss In Diabetics: Antioxidants the Solution?

Older adults with type 2 diabetes who eat a characteristically unhealthy meal often experience memory loss shortly after, according to a recent study. Besides not eating such things, the study found that one might be able to prevent this effect by taking antioxidant supplements along with the unhealthy meal.

Past research has shown a strong connection between type 2 diabetes and a condition known as chronic oxidative stress, which is known to be a major cause of memory deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The current study showed that after consuming unhealthy foods, higher levels of chronic oxidative stress result. According to the study, the unhealthy foods, such as fatty fried foods and sweets, cause more free radicals in the body, which can damage brain tissue. It was observed that this occurred between one and three hours after the meal.

The study was performed on 16 adults over the age of 50 with type 2 diabetes. They consumed three different types of meals: one high fat meal, one “meal” of only water, and another high fat meal plus the antioxidant vitamins C (1000 mg tablets) and E (800 mg tablets). The high fat meal, more specifically, consisted of “a danish pastry, cheddar cheese and yogurt with added whipped cream.” Cognitive tests were administered following the meals.

The study showed that after eating the high fat meal with no antioxidant supplementation, each individual displayed diminished memory recall and reaction time, especially being forgetful of read information. For those eating the high fat diet with antioxidants, and those just consuming water, similarly results occurred in which there was negligible measurable memory loss. Dr Michael Herman Chui, lead author of the study, says, “We’ve shown that antioxidant vitamins can minimize oxidative stress from the meal and reduce those immediate memory deficits.”

This study is not aimed to promote high fat diets with the use of antioxidants though. Dr Chui states that “our bottom line is that consuming unhealthy meals for those with diabetes can temporarily further worsen already underlying memory problems associated with the disease.”

The most important thing to do is to not consume high fat meals, exercise regularly, and have balanced diets consisting of many fruits and vegetables. Not only would this limit negative memory effects caused by high fat foods, but for those with type 2 diabetes, it is the best way to manage the disease (and for those without type 2 diabetes, it’s the best way to prevent it). Senior author of the study, Dr. Carol Greenwood, concludes that “while our study looked at the pill form of antioxidants, we would ultimately want individuals to consume healthier foods high in antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables.”

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Chui, Michael Herman. Greenwood, Carol. Connelly, Kelly. Nutrition Research press release. June 2008