By Steve Lauria
Photo: Normal brain (left); brain with Alzheimer’s (right)
February 29, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- Over 29 million Americans now have diabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Eight million have it and don’t know it. The CDC has estimated that diabetes could triple by 2050.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is less able to convert sugar into energy. When too much sugar remains in the blood, this can damage organs in the body. The most common type of diabetes is type 2, which can be controlled most of the time by diet and exercise.
There is now strong evidence linking type 2 diabetes and Alzheimers Disease, the most common form of dementia, and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, according to Alzheimer’s.net.
Alzheimers is a disease that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, communicate, and carry out basic, everyday activities. 5.1 million Americans now suffer from Alzheimers, and that number, too, is projected to rise significantly.
The correlation is that the brain, like any other organ, can be damaged by excessive blood sugar. When the brain gets too much blood sugar, brain chemistry can be disrupted and toxic proteins can form that poison the brain. The protein that forms in people with type 2 diabetes and the protein that forms in people with Alzheimer’s is the same protein. A study in the publication Neurology found that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
Prevention plays a crucial role in the development of either disease. Regular exercise will enable the muscles to use more glucose, the sugar in your bloodstream. This, over time can lower your blood sugar level. A healthy diet that’s low in processed sugars will also keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Many times, people diagnosed with diabetes can be treated by simply eating healthy and exercising. Other things like smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure can also be factors in developing diabetes.
As we get older, it is very important to make sure your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar are checked regularly. This will help catch any symptoms of diabetes, and allow any abnormalities to be treated. Even if you do develop diabetes, early treatment may help prevent further complications, such as Alzheimer’s.
While more research needs to be done to definitively confirm the link between the two diseases, the link has become stronger with each relevant study that has been done over the last several years.
The bottom line remains that, if you live a healthy lifestyle, your risk of developing either disease can be reduced dramatically!