Type 2 Diabetes Alert: Blood Sugar Is Key To Better Brain Function, Study Finds

Type 2 diabetes doubles the risk of cognitive problems and dementia.

Type 2 diabetes doubles the risk of cognitive problems and dementia.

Many studies have shown that type 2 diabetes is linked to brain shrinkage and dementia.

Now a study finds that controlling blood sugar levels is the best way for people with type 2 diabetes to improve their brain function.

People who used diet and exercise to reduce blood sugar were able to think more clearly and to remember and learn more.

Losing weight, though, was not directly linked to better brain function.

This may be because the brain cannot recover from too much weight gain, said Professor Owen Carmichael, the study’s first author:

“It’s important to properly control your blood sugar to avoid the bad brain effects of your diabetes.

Don’t think you can simply let yourself get all the way to the obese range, lose some of the weight, and everything in the brain is fine.

The brain might have already turned a corner that it can’t turn back from.”

The study included almost 1,100 people who were tracked for over a decade.

One group were asked to focus on improving their blood sugar levels through diet and physical activity.

The other group did something similar but were focused on losing weight and maintaining that weight loss.

The results demonstrated the benefits to the brain of exercising and eating healthily.

However, weight loss did not provide a consistent improvement to brain function.

Weight loss was linked to improvements in cognitive skills like attention, memory and planning but verbal learning and overall memory got worse.

Professor Carmichael said:

“Every little improvement in blood sugar control was associated with a little better cognition.

Lowering your blood sugar from the diabetes range to prediabetes helped as much as dropping from prediabetes levels to the healthy range.”

Over 25 percent of US adults over 65 have type 2 diabetes.

It doubles the risk of cognitive problems and dementia.

Avoiding obesity is one key to fighting the disease.

Professor Carmichael said:

“The results were worse for people who had obesity at the beginning of the study.

That’s a ‘too little, too late’ type of message.

People with diabetes who let their obesity go too far, for too long may be past the point of no return, cognition-wise.”

The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (Carmichael et al., 2020).

How Fatty Liver Disease Affects The Brain (M)

One-quarter of the population has fatty liver disease, along with 80 percent of those who are morbidly obese.

One-quarter of the population has fatty liver disease, along with 80 percent of those who are morbidly obese.

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The Best Exercise To Prevent Cognitive Decline

With age, blood flow to the brain and arterial function decreases — but this decline can be slowed.

With age, blood flow to the brain and arterial function decreases — but this decline can be slowed.

High-intensity interval training is the best exercise for preventing cognitive decline, research suggests.

Interval training is more effective than continuous training for increasing blood flow to the brain, scientists found.

Interval training (HIIT) involves short bursts of maximum effort, followed by periods of rest.

Interval training comes in a variety of guises: sometimes on a bicycle, other times running, jogging or speed walking

Typically, it involves exercising at maximum intensity for 30 seconds and then taking four minutes to recover.

This cycle is then repeated a few times.

Dr Tom Bailey, study co-author, said:

“As we age, the flow of blood to the brain and arterial function decreases.

These factors have been linked to a risk of cognitive decline and cardiovascular events, such as stroke.

Finding ways to increase brain blood flow and function in older adults is vital.”

The study included 21 people who either did interval cycling or who cycled continuously for around 10 minutes.

The results showed that blood flow in the brain was greater during interval training.

Dr Tom Bailey, study co-author, said:

“One of the key takeaways from the study was that both the exercise and the rest period were important for increasing brain blood flow in older adults.

This study shows that interval-based exercise was as effective as continuous exercise for increasing brain blood flow in older adults during the periods of activity, and more effective than continuous exercise when we measured the overall blood flow increases during both the exercise and the rest periods.

The benefits of exercise on brain function are thought to be caused by the increase in blood flow and shear stress, the frictional force of blood along the lining of the arteries, which occurs during exercise.

This study aimed to identify the type or format of exercise that causes the greatest increases in brain blood flow, so we could help to optimize exercise programs to enhance brain function.”

The study was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (Klein et al., 2019).

What High Blood Sugar Does To Brain Health

Prediabetes can be reversed by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, being active and by maintaining a healthy weight.

Prediabetes can be reversed by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, being active and by maintaining a healthy weight.

People with high blood sugar levels are at markedly increased risk of dementia and poor brain health, research finds.

Having higher blood sugar levels than normal is known as prediabetes and puts people at higher risk of developing diabetes.

Symptoms of high blood sugar can include:

  • tiredness,
  • frequent urination,
  • blurred vision,
  • stomach pain
  • and recurrent infections.

However, sometimes people with elevated blood sugar levels get no symptoms.

Prediabetes can be reversed by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, being active and by maintaining a healthy weight.

The study included over half-a-million people who were tracked over around four years.

Researchers found that people with elevated blood sugar levels were at a 54 percent higher risk of vascular dementia and a 42 percent higher risk of cognitive decline.

The increases in risk for cognitive decline was similar to those seen for full-blown diabetes, suggesting that high blood sugar is damaging the brain.

Brain scans revealed that high blood sugar was linked to a smaller hippocampus, a brain structure important for memory.

Elevated blood sugar was also linked to more damage to the brain’s white matter, which is important for information flow around the brain.

Dr Victoria Garfield, the study’s first author, said:

“Our research shows a possible link between higher blood sugar levels — a state often described as ‘prediabetes’ — and higher risks of cognitive decline and vascular dementia.

As an observational study, it cannot prove higher blood sugar levels cause worsening brain health.

However, we believe there is a potential connection that needs to be investigated further.

Previous research has found a link between poorer cognitive outcomes and diabetes but our study is the first to investigate how having blood sugar levels that are relatively high — but do not yet constitute diabetes — may affect our brain health.”

The people in the study’s average age was 58, which is relatively low for dementia and cognitive decline, explained Professor Nishi Chaturvedi, study co-author:

“In this relatively young age group, the risks of cognitive decline and of dementia are very low; the excess risks we observe in relation to elevated blood sugar only modestly increase the absolute rates of ill health.

Seeing whether these effects persist as people get older, and where absolute rates of disease get higher, will be important.”

The study was published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism (Garfield et al., 2021).

How To Reduce The Risk Of Premature Brain Aging (M)

Higher brain aging leads to shrinking of the white and gray matter and worse scores on standard cognitive tests.

Higher brain aging leads to shrinking of the white and gray matter and worse scores on standard cognitive tests.

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The Blood Type That Predicts Early Stroke Risk

Your blood type might signal whether you are prone to have an early stroke or not.

Your blood type might signal whether you are prone to have an early stroke or not.

Besides lifestyle and environment, genes have a big impact on a person’s state of health.

One example is a person’s blood group, which is inherited from genes passed down by the parents.

A meta-analysis of genetic studies reveals that our blood type can determine whether we are at risk of an early stroke or not.

They found that people with blood type A are more at risk of an early stroke.

Also, those with blood type B were more likely to experience a stroke before the age 60 and later on.

The review is based on 48 genetic studies related to ischemic strokes, the most common type of strokes.

Ischemic strokes are life-threatening conditions caused by a blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

Professor Steven Kittner, the study’s senior author, said:

“The number of people with early strokes is rising.

These people are more likely to die from the life-threatening event, and survivors potentially face decades with disability.

Despite this, there is little research on the causes of early strokes.”

The research team compared genetic data from 17,000 stroke patients with nearly 600,000 healthy adults (non-stroke controls) who were between 18- and 59-years-old.

The team studied the ABO gene located on certain chromosomes in order to find out if there is any link between common genetic variants with the risk of having a stroke before age 60.

Their analysis showed that participants with early stroke were less likely to have blood type O and most likely to have blood type A.

Participants with blood group A were more likely to have an early stroke and those with blood type O had a lower risk of developing strokes.

Those with blood type B were at higher risk of having an early stroke and later in life.

Professor Braxton Mitchell, study co-author, said:

“Our meta-analysis looked at people’s genetic profiles and found associations between blood type and risk of early-onset stroke.

The association of blood type with later-onset stroke was much weaker than what we found with early stroke.”

Compared to people with other blood types, those with blood type A had a 16 percent higher risk of an early stroke.

The authors acknowledged that the increased risk of an early stroke for people with blood type A is small and so they don’t need to worry or do any additional health check and medical tests.

Professor Kittner said:

“We still don’t know why blood type A would confer a higher risk, but it likely has something to do with blood-clotting factors like platelets and cells that line the blood vessels as well as other circulating proteins, all of which play a role in the development of blood clots.”

Past studies have found that people with blood type A are at a slightly increased risk of experiencing deep vein thrombosis.

The study was published in the journal Neurology (Jaworek et al., 2022).

The Ketogenic Diet May Help Reverse Brain Aging

Communication between areas of the brain starts to break down when people approach their 50s.

Communication between areas of the brain starts to break down when people approach their 50s.

A ketogenic diet — one low in simple carbohydrates — may help to reverse brain aging, research finds.

Reducing the consumption of simple carbs can prevent or reverse age-related changes to the brain.

Simple carbs are contained in foods like soda, baked goods, cookies and some breakfast cereals.

Complex carbs are found in foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains.

Even in people below the age of 50, in whom brain aging has not yet taken hold, switching to a low-carb or ketogenic diet increases brain activity, the researchers found.

Professor Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi, the study’s first author, said:

“What we found with these experiments involves both bad and good news.

The bad news is that we see the first signs of brain aging much earlier than was previously thought.

However, the good news is that we may be able to prevent or reverse these effects with diet, mitigating the impact of encroaching hypometabolism by exchanging glucose for ketones as fuel for neurons.”

The scientists examined almost 1,000 brain scans of people aged 18 to 88.

The results showed that communication between areas of the brain starts to break down when people approach their 50s.

The most rapid deterioration of the brain happened around 60-years-old.

This destabilisation was linked to worse cognition and accelerating insulin resistance.

However, further experiments showed that changing to a ketogenic diet can retard or even reverse the process of brain aging.

Professor Mujica-Parodi said:

“We think that, as people get older, their brains start to lose the ability to metabolize glucose efficiently, causing neurons to slowly starve, and brain networks to destabilize.

Thus, we tested whether giving the brain a more efficient fuel source, in the form of ketones, either by following a low-carb diet or drinking ketone supplements, could provide the brain with greater energy.

Even in younger individuals, this added energy further stabilized brain networks.”

A low-carb, or ketogenic diet works by providing more energy to cells in the form of ketones than glucose.

Ketones provide more energy, said Professor Mujica-Parodi:

“This effect matters because brain aging, and especially dementia, are associated with “hypometabolism,” in which neurons gradually lose the ability to effectively use glucose as fuel.

Therefore, if we can increase the amount of energy available to the brain by using a different fuel, the hope is that we can restore the brain to more youthful functioning.”

The study was published in the journal PNAS (Mujica-Parodi et al., 2020).

The Activity That Protects The Brain From Shrinking (M)

People’s brain health and its physical size naturally decline with age.

People's brain health and its physical size naturally decline with age.

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These Activities Stop Your Brain From Shrinking

It is one of the few interventions proven to slow down age-related brain shrinkage.

It is one of the few interventions proven to slow down age-related brain shrinkage.

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