By Bob Condor

Spikes in your blood sugar tend to be most associated with diabetes and weight gain. But a 2008 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition validates previous findings that not controlling blood sugar can lead to short-term memory loss. The higher your blood glucose level, the harder it is to remember facts and names.

It appears the brain is part of the sugar crash (instant energy for a while, then a mind and body freefall) we can experience from eating foods high in processed foods. On an instinctive level, we probably knew that already. But this study leaves no doubt in linking blood sugar control and clear thinking. The researchers found adverse blood sugar/short-term memory relationship intensifies as we grow older.

Blood sugar was a hot topic in the mainstream media earlier this year when a large federal diabetes study was stopped because the researchers discovered that dropping the volunteer subjects’ blood sugar levels too low actually raised their risk of dying from a heart attack.

One problem: Those study subjects’ blood sugar was controlled by drugs and not nutritional or lifestyle changes.

That raises a whopping “what if” scenario.

Consider a couple of other new studies to make the point that, uh, guys, maybe it was the drugs rather than the act of aggressively lowering blood sugar levels. And that going hard at better controlling blood sugar can help you shed fat and enhance your brain.

Purdue scientists fed two types of yogurt to rats. The rats eating yogurt sweetened with saccharin gained 36 percent more unhealthy fat in five weeks compared to another group of rats that consumed yogurt containing sugar. The researchers, of course, said research on humans would be the next step but hypothesized that the artificial sweetener altered insulin regulation and changed the way the body digested the yogurt (and its healthy friendly bacteria).

A Penn State study split adults into two groups eating the same number of daily calories in a weight-control diet that nonetheless included pasta and bread. The first group ate white-flour bread and pasta while the second group substituted whole-wheat bread and pasta. Both groups lost weight, about 10 pounds on average, but the whole-wheat group dropped two times more abdominal fat than the white-flour group. The researchers pointed to better insulin control in the whole-wheat group and more inflammation present in the first group. Insulin is hormone that functions to signal the body when to store or not store body fat, they said.

“Bob Condor is the Daily Health Blogger for Barton Publishing. He is also the Living Well columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He covers natural health and quality of life issues and writes regularly for national magazines, including Life, Esquire, Parade, Self, and Outside. He is a former syndicated health columnist for the Chicago Tribune and author of six books, including “The Good Mood Diet” and “Your Prostate Cancer Survivors’ Guide.” He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and two 11-year-old kids.”