CLEVELAND - They are often referred to as "senior moments," when you run into someone in the grocery store you've known your whole life and can't remember his/her name.
These moments seem to happen more and more as you get older. What's causing them, though, may have something to do with what you're eating.
Research out of Columbia University Medical Center links consistently elevated sugar levels to brain aging, and not just levels associated with diabetes.
James Campbell, M.D., a geriatrician at MetroHealth Medical Center said the research makes sense, since our body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels gets more difficult as we age, and that alone, contributes to those ‘senior moments.'
Regardless of the cause of the memory lapses, Campbell said many of his patients worry they are a sign of the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Sometimes, they are a sign, but most of the time they are not.
"The best way to understand it is if it's interfering with your level of ability to function, that's what really is the differentiating factor," he said.
Campbell recommends not smoking, ramping up physical and mental exercise and checking sugar levels to keep your brain healthy beyond middle age. Sugar levels can have a dramatic impact on brain health.
As for the pre-diabetic high sugar levels that come with sweets and other carbohydrates causing damage, Campbell said he's waiting for more evidence to confirm the findings of the Columbia study.
"But it's an interesting study that needs to be followed up on," he said.