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Small sugary treat can improve memory in older adults

Raghu Kshitiz

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For several decades, researchers have been examining the positive impact glucose has in relation to neurocognitive performance. And they have found that a small sugary treat can boost memory and performance when faced with a difficult task in older adults and makes them feel happier during a task.

A long-standing body of research has been bolstered by this new study from the University of Warwick– published in the journal Psychology and Aging — has concluded that sugar does indeed improve memory and motivation in older adults.

The researchers gave young (aged 18-27) and older (aged 65-82) participants a drink containing a small amount of glucose and got them to perform various memory tasks while other participants were given a placebo, a drink containing artificial sweetener.

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The study involved about 50 young adults. They then measured participants’ levels of engagement with the task, their memory score, mood, and their own perception of effort.

The subjects were all given either a drink containing either a small amount of glucose or an artificial sweetener. After performing an assortment of memory tasks, the subjects’ engagement was measured by following changes in heart rate and self-reported efforts.

Interestingly, despite both the old and young glucose groups showing increased engagement, relative to the placebo group, only the older glucose group showed an improvement in memory performance.

So, the younger subjects may have been a little hyped up by the glucose, but it didn’t actually improve their performance on the memory tasks.

However, older adults who had a glucose drink showed significantly better memory and more positive mood compared to older adults who consumed the artificial sweetener.

The researchers hypothesize that an increase in blood sugar levels most likely resulted in a short-term boost of energy that enhanced the older subjects’ motivation to perform the task. This active engagement with the task is what the researchers suggest is behind the improved cognitive effects.

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“Over the years, studies have shown that actively engaging with difficult cognitive tasks is a prerequisite for the maintenance of cognitive health in older age,” says Konstantinos Mantantzis, a PhD student working on the project.
“Therefore, the implications of uncovering the mechanisms that determine older adults’ levels of engagement cannot be understated.”

The researchers noted that it is still unclear exactly how energy availability affects cognitive engagement, so this study doesn’t suggest sugar being included in specific dietary guidelines for senior citizens.

With Agency Inputs

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Health

Adding glass of milk in breakfast can lower blood glucose

Raghu Kshitiz

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Several research studies have attempted to find a link between drinking milk and a reduced risk for experiencing type 2 diabetes and a new research has found that adding a glass of milk in breakfast is the perfect energy boost for body needs to get through the day.

According to a study published in the Journal of Dairy Science, consuming milk with breakfast cereal reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with water, and high dairy protein concentration reduced postprandial blood glucose concentration compared with normal dairy protein concentration.

H Douglas Goff, PhD, and the team of scientists from the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit at the University of Guelph, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, examined the effects of consuming high-protein milk for breakfast on blood glucose levels.

The high-protein treatment also reduced appetite after the second meal compared with the low-protein equivalent.

“Metabolic diseases are on the rise globally, with type 2 diabetes and obesity as leading concerns in human health. Thus, there is an impetus to develop dietary strategies for the risk reduction and management of obesity and diabetes to empower consumers to improve their personal health,” Goff and his team noted.

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Although the team only found a modest difference in food consumption at the lunch meal when increasing whey protein at breakfast, they did find that milk consumed with a high-carbohydrate breakfast reduced blood glucose even after lunch, and high-protein milk had a greater effect.

Milk with an increased proportion of whey protein had a modest effect on pre-lunch blood glucose, achieving a greater decrease than that provided by regular milk.

Likewise, a 2014 study from Lund University in Sweden published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found eating high-fat milk and yogurt reduces a person’s type 2 diabetes risk by as much as one-fifth.

Another study published in the 2011 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tracked the relationship between a person’s dairy consumption during adolescence and their risk for type 2 diabetes as an adult. The researchers concluded that “higher dairy product intake during adolescence is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”

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