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Can Uncontrolled Diabetes Cause Dementia

What You Can Do

How Can Memory Loss Be Reversed? | FYI

Manage your blood sugar levels. A few studies lead some scientists to believe that keeping your A1c below 7% may help your brain stay well.

Work out.Exercise will help your cells use insulin better and help you manage your blood sugar and avoid too much insulin in your blood and brain. Physical activity brings oxygen-rich blood to your brain, and it lowers your risk of heart disease.

Maybe metformin. In a study of more than 15,000 people older than 55 who had type 2 diabetes, those who took metformin were less likely to get Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia than those who took other diabetes drugs.

Show Sources

American Diabetes Association: “Aerobic Exercise Improves Brain Function for People with Prediabetes,” “Types of Activity: What We Recommend.”

“Diabetes and Cognitive Decline,” Alzheimer’s Association, October 2015.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke.”

“Alzheimer’s Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: A Growing Connection,” Alzheimer’s Association, 2007.

De la Monte, S.M. Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, November 2008.

Harvard Health Publications: “What you eat can fuel or cool inflammation, a key driver of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.”

Chen, L. International Journal of Endocrinology, published online June 2, 2015.

Alzheimer’s Association: “Brain Tour,” “Brain Health: Stay Physically Active.”

Diabetes Problems And Brain Fog Starts With Blood Sugar

Diabetes begins with insulin and blood sugar. When we eat, glucose is created during digestion. It enters the bloodstream where its joined by a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps glucose leave the bloodstream and enter the cells for energy. Glucose is the main source of energy for the brain

In diabetes, there is a problem with both glucose and insulin that leads to a host of problems. Glucose needs insulin to enter the cells, but in diabetes either the body cant make insulin, doesnt make enough, or cant use its insulin correctly. As a result, glucose remains in the bloodstream and accumulates. High blood sugar does extensive, system-wide damage. Low blood sugar , a result of diet and/or medication, also causes damage. These blood sugar problems impair functioning in the brain and can cause brain fog and memory loss.

Blood sugar fluctuations affect neurotransmitter levels. High blood sugar increases serotonin and GABA, causing fatigue. Low blood sugar causes the brain to make more cortisol, glucagon, and adrenalin in an attempt to counteract hypoglycemia. Stress increases, and concentrating and focusing become more difficult.

The fluctuations between blood sugar extremes can leave you feeling tired yet wired, and your brain can have a hard time adjusting to fluctuations. In addition to the impact on neurotransmitters, fluctuating blood sugar leads to:

Blood sugar creates another problem that contributes to brain fog and memory loss: blood vessel damage.

Diabetes And Dementia: The Risk

Progressive decline in cognitive function leading to dementia is a common occurrence in older people with diabetes. The risk of developing Alzheimers disease or vascular dementia is two fold in older people with diabetes compared to a cohort of age-matched control subjects without diabetes.9 In diabetics, it has been shown that the relative risk of developing Alzheimers disease is 1.56 or a 56% increase, vascular dementia is 2.27 or a 127% increase and all types of dementia is 1.73 or a 73% increase.10 Over 10 years, the risk of a diabetic developing dementia is 5.3% for the lowest score and 73.3% for the highest sum scores.

Age, microvascular disease, diabetic foot, cerebrovascular disease, cardiovascular disease, acute metabolic events, depression and education were most strongly predictive of dementia and constituted the risk score.11 In addition, the presence of diabetes accelerates the mortality rate in patients with dementia. In a retrospective Australian study, patients with combined dementia and diabetes died almost twice as fast as those without diabetes .12

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Precision Health: Early Detection

To effectively target and treat dementia associated with type 2 diabetes, such treatment would be most effective when implemented as early as possible, preferably during a latent or prodromal phase when the neuropathological changes are not yet significant enough to result in significant overt clinical symptoms . Importantly, both type 2 diabetes and dementia are associated with prolonged prodromal phases, and although symptoms may not be overt, current advances permit early identification of both syndromes.

More Useful Links And Resources

Can Uncontrolled Diabetes Cause Dementia

Risk factors.Alzheimer Society of Canada, 2021. Read about risk factors for dementia in our downloadable, print-friendly infosheet. This sheet also contains strategies and lifestyle changes that can help you reduce your risk of developing dementia.

Understanding genetics and Alzheimer’s disease.Alzheimer Society of Canada, 2018.In our downloadable, print-friendly infosheet, learn more about the role that genetics plays as a risk factor for dementia, and find out whether you should pursue genetic testing.

Risk factors and prevention. Alzheimer’s Society UK. This comprehensive webpage from the Alzheimer’s Society UK has some helpful nuggets of research and advice related to reducing your risk of dementia.

Tobacco use and dementia. World Health Organization , 2014. This report from the WHO details the evidence behind smoking tobacco as a risk factor for dementia.

Women and Dementia: Understanding sex/gender differences in the brain. brainXchange, 2018. This webinar discusses understandings of sex and gender, sex differences in Alzheimerâs disease, how the higher number of women with Alzheimer’s may be due to both, and a discussion of the role of estrogen in the health of brain regions associated with Alzheimerâs disease. In partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Canada and the Canadian Consortium of Neurodegeneration in Aging .

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How Diabetes Impacts Mental Health

Carrie Steckl earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a Minor in Gerontology from Indiana University Bloomington in 2001.She has spent overRead More

In addition to marking the beginning of the holiday season, November is American Diabetes Month and given the influx of unhealthy foods and practices that abound during this time of the year, I cant help but wonder if the timing of this was strategically planned.

When we think of diabetes, its physical manifestations and symptoms often come to mind first. After all, the vision problems, foot complications, hypertension, and high risk of wound infection due to slower healing weigh heavy on the minds of those with diabetes and their caregivers. However, diabetes affects people in a more insidious way that is no less important it impacts mental health.

Think about it. Diabetes is characterized by blood glucose levels that are too high. The brain uses glucose for all of its functions, which include thinking, judgment, memory, emotions, and behavior. If we have too much glucose coursing through our body, our brain will be affected along with our eyes, skin, feet, and every other anatomical system.

Here are a few ways that diabetes impacts mental health:

Balhara, Y. P. S. . Diabetes and psychiatric disorders. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 15, 274-283.

Dementia And Diabetes Are A Dangerous Combination

Diabetes, and the hypoglycemia it causes, may exacerbate dementia and Alzheimers disease, new research says.

A chronic illness alone may seem like too much to cope with, but unfortunately, one chronic condition can often compound the effects of another. Diabetes is one such disease that increases a patients risk of developing a whole slew of other conditions, especially cardiovascular disease.

On its own, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Journal of the American Medical Association . This can create a dangerous spiral, in which a hypoglycemic event caused by diabetes can lead to mental deterioration and vice versa.

The brain uses glucose as a primary source of energy. Cognitive function becomes impaired when blood glucose drops to low levels, and severe hypoglycemia may cause neuronal damage, the study authors wrote. Diabetes is a set of chronic conditions that affect the production and regulation of the hormone insulin. Insulin helps blood cells take up glucose, which means that for diabetics, getting glucose to the brain is a difficult task. If the brain is starved of energy, its possible that neurological problems like dementia and Alzheimers disease are more likely to develop.

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Sugar Drowns The Brain

Your brain requires a constant source of energy in the form of glucose . In the brain, glucose can easily enter the brain cells.

Unlike other cells in the body, brain cells do not need insulin to absorb sugar. They will absorb sugar directly from the bloodstream because sugar crosses the blood-brain barrier easily. However, now that there is sugar flowing through the brain, it doesn’t produce mental energy. Only with insulin can the brain convert sugar into energy.

If years of eating sugars and simple carbohydrates have resulted in insulin resistance, then the brain has high levels of both insulin and sugar. The high load of insulin is trying to prevent the brain from using sugar and converting it into energy. The brain is almost swimming in sugar but can’t use the sugar and can’t convert it to energy to regulate body functions and help us think.

If the brain cells can’t get the energy they need , then they die. The sad irony is that, with insulin resistance, the brain cells are surrounded by sugar and are almost drowning in it but they just can’t use the sugar.

Type 2 Diabetes And Cognition In Older Adults

Diabetes-Induced Memory Loss: Signs And Prevention | FYI

Type 2 diabetes is a robust predictor of cognitive impairment and decline in older adults. Multiple population-based studies have reported an association between type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment , and older adults with type 2 diabetes experience global cognitive decline at a rate that is double those without type 2 diabetes over a 5-year period . General cognitive slowing, thought to be a marker for accelerated brain aging and dementia risk, is related to type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and older adults , and interactions between type 2 diabetes and genetic risk predict more rapid decline in cognitive speed . With regard to specific cognitive domains, associations between type 2 diabetes or even prediabetic levels of insulin resistance are most commonly reported with both episodic memory and decreased executive function, including verbal fluency, working memory, processing speed, cognitive flexibility, and cognitive control . Executive function, which may be most predictive of functional performance, also declines more rapidly among older women with type 2 diabetes . Conversely, remaining free from diabetes has been associated with preserved cognitive function in women > 80 years of age .

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How Do You Reduce The Amount Of Sugar You Eat Daily

Reducing sugar intake is a relatively straightforward thing, but it is more difficult than often expected. There is sugar in nearly everything we consume, from our morning coffee to our toothpaste. Consequently, staying mindful of what you are eating and drinking throughout the day, every day, is the key way to minimize the amount of sugar you are consuming.

An easy way to avoid large quantities of sugar is to read the labels on food and drink you purchase. For example, if you enjoy coffee in the morning , read the Daily Value and Nutrition Info labels on the products you purchase to make that coffee. Perhaps there are low-sugar, or Diet alternatives to your favorite foods and beverages. This will also help combat sugar cravings, which are big factors in dementia, and so you will be feeling better every day, but also defending your body from things it does not need.

Another way to limit the sugar you consume every day is to switch out what you eat for dessert every night. Obviously, some nights it will be impossible to not enjoy pie, or cakes, or ice cream, etc., but there are many times when fruit could be an alternate option for deserts. For example, perhaps on the weekends, you treat yourself to sugary delights like pies, while on weekdays, fruits are the go-to dessert.

Dr Nair Pointed Out The Role Of Exercise

People suffering from diabetes have a greater chance of progressive memory loss, said Dr K Sreekumaran Nair, a renowned researcher and endocrinologist from Mayo Clinic, an American nonprofit academic medical institution.

Speaking at the 9th Jothydevs Professional Education Forum annual global convention 2021, Dr Nair said, Longstanding uncontrolled diabetes can be a major cause of reduced memory and is associated with loss of brain volume, but do not fully account for the same, adding that studies have shown that insulin deficiency can decrease the energy production in the brain and alters brain connectivity.

He said higher A1c levels are associated with reduced memory in those with diabetes. The potential causes for this are very high or low levels of blood glucose levels, lipid levels, insulin levels, hypertension, and others.

Dr Nair pointed out the role of exercise both aerobic and resistance training in preventing memory loss by increasing brain volume and microcirculation in ageing individuals. In that regard, the new guidelines by the American Academy of Neurology that proposes 30 minutes of daily exercise are recommended.

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Low Sugar Dessert Ideas

There may be times when you make an exception to eat something sweet like a holiday or a birthday party. When you feel constantly deprived, you are more likely to binge on sweets when your self-control is tired.

Satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your blood glucose levels stable by enjoying one of these sweet and tasty low sugar desserts:

  • Pear and cheese
  • Fresh berries with whipped cream
  • Baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts
  • A small amount of dark chocolate with almonds
  • Homemade chia pudding
  • Strawberries dipped in chocolate
  • Unsweetened cream cheese on whole-grain crackers topped with sliced peaches
  • Simple frozen fruit ice cream

How Diabetes Can Lead To Dementia

Diabetes Dementia

There are multiple reasons why years of type 2 diabetes may lead to dementia. One reason is related to the effects that diabetes has on the heart, as heart health is related to brain health. Heart disease and elevated blood pressure are both associated with strokes that, in turn, can lead to dementia. However, strokes do not appear to be the complete answer, as some studies found that diabetes led to an increased risk of dementia even when strokes were controlled for.

Another factor relates to the episodes of hypoglycemia that commonly occur in diabetes. Although tight control of blood sugars has been proven to reduce the long-term risks of heart disease and strokes, tight control can also lead to hypoglycemia, memory loss, and dementia. Here, the reason is likely because low blood sugars are known to damage the hippocampus the memory center of the brain.

One of the more intriguing hypotheses is that diabetes directly causes Alzheimers disease. Indeed, Alzheimers disease has even been called “type 3 diabetes” because of shared molecular and cellular features among diabetes and Alzheimers. For example, insulin plays a critical role in the formation of amyloid plaques, and insulin is also involved in the phosphorylation of tau, which leads to neurofibrillary tangles. In other words, whereas insulin resistance in the body can lead to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance in the brain can lead to the plaques and tangles of Alzheimers disease.

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What Are The Symptoms

Some people are embarrassed to discuss or are in denial and become dismissive of their symptoms. One key point to remember is that dementia progresses gradually. If you notice some of the following signs, you may want to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

#1 Becoming more forgetful and bouts of confusion

#2 Getting lost or wandering in familiar places

#3 Urine or fecal incontinence

#4 Emotional lability

#5 Problems with routines such as cooking or handling money and difficulty following instructions

With that said, it is important not to attribute these signs to the aging process.

High Blood Sugar Can Cause A Stroke

Insulin resistance affects the flow of blood to the brain. When brain cells dont get enough blood, brain function suffers. A decrease in blood flow can lead to mini-strokes. High blood sugar levels can also make the blood vessels weak, like old leaky pipes. Strokes are one of the factors in developing dementia.

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Can Metformin Cause Memory Problems

The research is unclear at this time if metformin can cause memory problems, so there isnt a definitive answer. However, many doctors still recommend metformin as a first-line treatment for Type II diabetes.

What may be causing memory problems for those taking metformin is not the medication itself, but the underlying illness: diabetes. The mental health effects of diabetes can range from mild cognitive impairment to severe. In fact, a 2011 clinical study illustrated a risk factor between Type 2 diabetes mellitus and dementia, stating that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of dementia more than two-fold.

Another study from 2017 made a connection between insulin resistancea trait of diabetesand long-term cognitive decline.

The bottom line is that more research is required to get conclusive answers on how metformin contributes to memory problems, however, the underlying condition that metformin treatstype 2 diabetescertainly can lead to decreased cognitive function and memory issues.

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Can Diabetes Cause Memory Problems

Living with Dementia and Diabetes

Many people are aware of some of the devastating consequences of uncontrolled or untreated diabetes, including an increased risk for heart disease, blindness, and kidney failure. But did you know that it also puts you at a higher risk for memory problems, Alzheimers disease, and other types of dementia? Scientific evidence links abnormal insulin levels to cognitive decline and Alzheimers disease. Thats bad news for the 50% of the U.S. population who have diabetes or prediabetes.

Diabetes is a disorder that occurs when the bodys blood sugar levels are chronically too high. The condition develops when the body either does not produce enough insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels or does not use insulin efficiently. There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type1: This is characterized by the insufficient production of insulin.
  • Type2: This occurs when the body doesnt use insulin efficiently.

Both types of diabetes damage blood vessels, which then cause harmto the bodys organs and brain.

Prediabetes, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, is defined ashaving blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to bediagnosed as diabetes.

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