Prediabetes may accelerate mental decline – and millions of Americans are suffering from it

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Prediabetes may accelerate mental decline – and millions of Americans are suffering from it

Many of the symptoms can be managed with diet and exercise.

Around 84 million Americans are suffering from prediabetes. Prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough for a person to be considered diabetic, can be reversed by lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular physical activity and, among people who are obese, weight loss. It's a condition that acts as a precursor to type-2 diabetes and it may be linked to mental decline and a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.

British researchers discovered that patients suffering from prediabetes had a 42% higher risk of mental decline over a four-year period compared to people with normal blood sugar levels. They also were 54% more likely to develop vascular dementia, a condition caused by reduced blood flow to the brain, over an eight-year period. These studies affirm previous studies linking high blood sugar to increases in 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," Victor Garfield, a scientist at the University College London, told U.S. News & World Report.

These findings point to the benefits of keeping blood sugar at healthy levels, experts said. In addition, stress and lack of sleep can affect your blood sugar levels, so practicing regular exercise and healthy sleep habits are important.

There is plenty of support available for people seeking to stick to a healthier lifestyle. The American Diabetes Association has created a Diabetes Plate Method to help people with prediabetes and diabetes eat healthier at each meal.

The organization's nutrition experts recommend that half of the plate should be filled with a non-starchy vegetable, such as broccoli or asparagus. One quarter should contain a lean protein. The other quarter should have a healthy carbohydrate, such as brown rice, quinoa or whole grain pasta.

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