22
Jan

Does Diabetes Affect the Brain?

download (62)Type 2 diabetes has been linked with the loss of brain function. In June 2016, the Journal of Diabetes Complications reported on the results of a study on Type 2 diabetes and the risk of brain function decline. Researchers at the Autonomous National University of Mexico in Mexico City and the Institute of Psychiatry in London, UK, looked at 1193 individuals who were 65 years of age or older. They found the people who were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes had almost twice the risk of brain impairment as did the non-diabetic participants. The Type 2 diabetics who had the highest blood sugar levels were most likely to suffer reduced brain function.

In June 2016 the Journal of Neurological Science reported on a different study from Johns Hopkins University in the United States. Middle-aged adults with fasting blood sugar levels of at least 126 mg/dL or 7 mmol/L already had thinning in the cortices of their brains, where thinking takes place. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L is considered as being prediabetes.

If we can better understand how this works, then it is hopeful we can find a pathway to the prevention and treatment of deterioration of brain function.

Various scientists at Southeast University in Nanjing, China and the National Institutes of Health in Baltimore, United States, compared the brain images of 40 Type 2 diabetics, and 43 non-diabetics. Their work was reported on in the American Journal of Neuroradiology in June 2016. They found in several areas of the brain, connections were missing. The missing connections were linked with…

  • poor planning ability, and
  • memory problems.

These results led the researchers to conclude their work will likely serve as a basis for understanding the brain function decline in many people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Investigators at German Sport University in Cologne, Germany, may have at least part of the answer to the question of prevention. In May of 2016 the journal Endocrine reported on the idea. According to the investigators…

  • inflammation,
  • free radicals, and
  • changes in blood sugar levels

can allow damaging molecules to enter the brain. This can cause…

  • brain insulin resistance,
  • reduced ability to generate energy, and the
  • accumulation of beta-amyloid, a molecule linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Regular physical activity helps to reduce free radicals and inflammatory molecules. It can also improve blood vessel function, which could allow the parts of the brain in need of oxygen and nutrients to receive them. Regular exercise, known to be good for the rest of the body, could likely help the brain as well.

Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.