June 7

Are Diabetes And Obesity Eating Away At Your Brain?

Despite what you see on tv, forget about zombies as being the main threat to your precious brains. It looks like being diabetic or overweight/obese may pose a larger (and slightly more realistic) threat to you preserving your gray matter as long as possible.

There have already been documented associations between type 2 diabetes and loss of memory function, but further keys as to how this may be occurring could be coming to light. Korean researchers have compared this type of brain function in those who are diabetic, obese and overweight and the results didn’t look favorable for people in one or more of those categories!

They found that people with those types of health conditions actually have thinner gray matter in several areas of the brain, notably areas relating to visual information processing and memory among others! Sounds like a fast track to dementia or Alzheimer’s if one isn’t careful.

Don’t Weight To Take Care Of Your Brain

Type 2 diabetes and obesity frequently occur together, as the root cause (a poor/uncontrolled diet) typically leads to both, irrespective of which comes first. They are definitely two of the most common health issues we see in our practice each week. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when your hemoglobin A1C level on a blood panel reaches 7.5 percent, according to the American Diabetes Association. Pre-diabetes is from 5.7 to 7.4. Hemoglobin A1c gives a measure of what your daily blood sugars average over about a 3-month period.

The study, published in Diabetologia, looked at 150 volunteers, age 30 – 60. One third were of normal weight and did not have diabetes, one third were diabetic but still normal weight, and the rest were both overweight and diabetic. All of the diabetics had been diagnosed with it only 5 years or less and were utilizing medication, lifestyle modification or both to try and control their blood sugar levels. Evaluation was done by MRI to assess the actual physical changes to the brain, and by memory and thinking skill tests to assess brain function. The results didn’t look favorable for the more health-challenged:

  • Diabetics demonstrated poorer memory and decreased thinking skills
  • The cerebral cortex (outer layer) of the brain was thinner in diabetics
  • Those with diabetes AND weight issues also had thinning of the temporal lobes

The cerebrum is the most highly developed part of the human brain and is responsible for thinking, perceiving, producing and understanding language, and is where most information processing occurs. The temporal lobes are heavily involved with processing memories (and commonly affected in Alzheimer’s patients). Progressive change and damage to either or both parts have the potential to make irreversible changes that could affect your quality of life in many areas. Therefore, if the weight is starting to accumulate in an unhealthy way and the blood sugars are beginning to rise, it’s time to take action now, before it’s too late.

Diet is first and foremost since it is the main culprit in obesity and diabetes. Limiting carbohydrates in both amount and to just the healthiest sources is imperative to properly manage blood sugars. It is also important to know what a good daily calorie intake for your body is, based on your level of activity and current health state. We also work to decrease levels of inflammation in the body since that can be an underlying source of many health problems, as well as leading to progressive damage to body tissues, including the brain.

Those are just some of the basics that we help patients achieve during the course of their programs with our office. If you are struggling to achieve a better level of health or want the opportunity to safely get off your blood sugar medications, let us help guide you along the path. Managing your blood sugars and your weight should be a priority, and are some of the easier health issues to overcome with the right plan.

Especially if you want to keep your brain cells intact as long as possible.


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