Diabetes and Dementia: A Deadly Combination

Diabetes and Dementia: A Deadly Combination

Diabetes can cause cognitive decline, and, according to a new study, even prediabetes is linked to dementia. Prediabetes means that you have a higher blood sugar level than normal, according to the Mayo Clinic. The study published in JAMA found that increases in blood sugar levels can trigger loss of mental function. The study involved close to 4,000 adults and researchers found that people who had dementia had higher levels of Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs) in their skin.

According to Dr. Gabe Mirkin, in his newsletter, AGEs develop when your blood sugar rises too high after eating, “causing the sugar to stick irreversibly to proteins, fats, or nucleic acids.”

Mirkin, author of “The Healthy Heart Miracle,” adds that the AGE’s turn on your immune system to cause inflammation that can damage all types of cells in your body and increase the risk of dementia, heart attacks, strokes, and even certain forms of cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than 100 million U.S. adults have diabetes or prediabetes. The number of Americans with prediabetes, which can develop into diabetes, is estimated to be a whopping 84 million and most of these folks are not aware they have the disease.

Mirkin says that there are some classic clues that you might have prediabetes. “If you can pinch more than 2 inches of fat under the skin near your belly button or have a big belly and small buttocks, you may be at risk,” he says. Blood tests can also determine your risk of developing diabetes, says the expert.

According to Healthline, one of the reasons diabetes is associated with dementia is that the hormone insulin helps get glucose into the brain. For those with diabetes, this becomes a difficult task, and the brain becomes starved of energy which can lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Another reason is that diabetes damages blood vessels, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and damaged blood vessels in the brain may contribute to cognitive decline. Also, too much blood sugar causes inflammation that can damage brain cells and lead to dementia.

Simple lifestyle choices can help avoid diabetes, according to the Association. They include:

  • Losing at least 5% of body weight.
  • Exercising for 30 minutes, five days a week.
  • Eating a healthy-low-fat diet.

Mirkin adds that including lots of vegetables, un-ground grains, beans, nuts, and whole fruit in your diet can also reduce tor risk of developing prediabetes or diabetes.  

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