If you have type 2 diabetes and don't control your blood sugar, you may be putting more than your heart, eyes, and kidneys at risk--you may be putting your brain at risk, too. People with diabetes are one and a half times more likely than those without diabetes to develop cognitive impairment, or trouble with memory and thinking, including Alzheimer's disease.
Two recent studies back up previous evidence that diabetes can alter brain function. In one study, reported in Neuropsychology, adults with diabetes performed significantly worse than those without diabetes on two tests of mental processing. In the other study, reported in Diabetes Care, adults with diabetes who had higher blood glucose levels--as compared to those with diabetes who controlled their levels--performed worse on tasks that required memory, speed, and the ability to focus without being distracted by various stimuli.
It's not exactly clear how blood sugar levels might affect mental function. It may be that higher blood sugar levels cause cognitive impairment. Other factors might be involved, too. For instance, having a lower-than-normal response to insulin might increase your blood sugar and impair brain processes.
While researchers continue to study the relationship between diabetes and brain function, one thing is clear: Patients who manage their diabetes well are more likely to prevent the long-term complications linked with diabetes, which may include poorer brain function.
If you have diabetes, here are tried-and-true tips for taking care of yourself:
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Mediterranean diets--which include plenty of fruit, veggies, beans, and fish--bring more than flavor to your table. These tasty diets offer many disease-fighting benefits as well. Studies have shown they can cut the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and several types of cancer. Mediterranean diets also may fight Alzheimer's disease, which is responsible for about 70 percent of dementia cases.
Researchers think the antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, and other foods in the Mediterranean diet may help protect the brain against damage that might lead to Alzheimer's. Or, these foods may help control inflammation in the brain, which could contribute to the disease.
To give your meals a Mediterranean flavor:
Always consult your physician for more information.