Is There a Link Between Blood Sugar and Dementia?

As Julian Omidi outlines here, exercise and good nutrition does more than keep us trim and feeling strong; it might also help us fight the onset of dementia later in life.

Keeping fit and leading a healthy lifestyle affects more than just the likelihood of obesity; it may help reduce the probability of dementia later in life.

The link between high blood sugar and diabetes with dementia has never been firmly established, but the connection has been observed for some time. However, a recent observational study revealed that of more than 2,000 patients with high blood glucose (either with or without diabetes), approximately one-fourth of the patients developed either Alzheimer’s disease or another type of vascular dementia.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the higher the blood sugar levels, the more likely that dementia would eventually occur, and the lower the blood sugar, the lower the dementia risk. Even blood sugar levels considered normal posed a slight risk compared to below normal blood sugar levels.

The study authors wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that people suffering from diabetes or high blood sugar in general would eventually succumb to dementia, but they did recommend healthy lifestyle choices in general.

Other studies have found that healthy practices could reduce the risk of dementia. Because many patients with dementia had also suffered from depression, it is believed that choices that help to alleviate that depression could possibly thwart dementia. For example, it has been found that seniors that are physically active are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline than sedentary seniors. Exercise has been found to elevate mood and assuage mild depression in people of all ages, due to the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that are believed to reduce the production of stress hormones that lead to anxiety.

If you suffer from high blood sugar or diabetes, exercise is an excellent way of regulating your blood sugar, but it is critically important that you monitor your blood sugar spikes both before and after you engage in strenuous physical activity. Make sure any exercise routine you adopt has been discussed with your physician.

Even though we may think that medical treatments are perfectly effective tools in combating illness, very often our physical health is the direct result of our learned behaviors. By eating a wide variety of healthy foods and maintaining our cardiovascular and skeletal strength through regular exercise, we give ourselves the foundation for productive longevity. Our doctors may be able to treat us when we are ill, but whether or not we become ill in the first place is largely due to how we spent our lives treating ourselves.

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