Blood glucose, diet-based glycemic load and cognitive aging among dementia-free older adults

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Apr;70(4):471-9. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glu135. Epub 2014 Aug 22.


Background: Although evidence indicates that Type II Diabetes is related to abnormal brain aging, the influence of elevated blood glucose on long-term cognitive change is unclear. In addition, the relationship between diet-based glycemic load and cognitive aging has not been extensively studied. The focus of this study was to investigate the influence of diet-based glycemic load and blood glucose on cognitive aging in older adults followed for up to 16 years.

Methods: Eight-hundred and thirty-eight cognitively healthy adults aged ≥50 years (M = 63.1, SD = 8.3) from the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study of Aging were studied. Mixed effects growth models were utilized to assess overall performance and change in general cognitive functioning, perceptual speed, memory, verbal ability, and spatial ability as a function of baseline blood glucose and diet-based glycemic load.

Results: High blood glucose was related to poorer overall performance on perceptual speed as well as greater rates of decline in general cognitive ability, perceptual speed, verbal ability, and spatial ability. Diet-based glycemic load was related to poorer overall performance in perceptual speed and spatial ability.

Conclusion: Diet-based glycemic load and, in particular, elevated blood glucose appear important for cognitive performance/cognitive aging. Blood glucose control (perhaps through low glycemic load diets) may be an important target in the detection and prevention of age-related cognitive decline.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cognitive aging; Nutrition..

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Cognition*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / blood*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / etiology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates