Eating sweets can rot your brain

Sugar rots teeth. But it also rots something far more important: your brain cells.

Diabetics have a higher risk of dementia because of their sky-high blood sugar levels -- but you don't have to be a diabetic yourself to suffer from the brain-rotting damage of sugar.

Even slight elevations in blood sugar can cause memory problems.

I've warned you of this risk before, and new research confirms that these all-too-common sugar spikes can actually damage the brain by shrinking your hippocampus.

That's a region of your brain critical to both memory and learning -- and when it gets smaller, it shows. In the study of 141 otherwise healthy non-diabetics, those with high blood sugar levels had worse memory along with that shrink.

There are a number of reasons for the link, but the biggest may be the role of insulin. When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas pumps out more insulin to deal with it -- and excess insulin can leak out of your blood and into the brain.

Your brain then has to use an enzyme normally reserved for clearing out protein to remove the insulin.

As a result, the protein starts to build up -- specifically the beta-amyloid protein linked to memory loss, cognitive decline and dementia.

That's why we see consistent links between elevated blood sugar and dementia risk. One study last year, for example, found that "slightly elevated" territory of 105 mg/dL will cause your dementia risk to jump by 10 percent.

And from there, your risk rises with the blood sugar levels.

I recommend fasting levels of less than 90 mg/dL, and the best way to do that is with a diet low in sugar and other processed carbs and high in the natural foods your body needs for overall good health.