Diabetes Speeds up Brain Shrinkage

May 8, 2012 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Diabetes Speeds up Brain Shrinkage
Australian researchers measured the brain size of 312 adults aged 70-90 using MRI scans, repeating the measurement after two years. Those with worsening blood sugar control or type 2 diabetes lost 2.5 cubic inches of brain volume, compared to 1 cubic inch lost as part of “normal aging” in those with proper blood sugar levels. Loss of brain volume was detected in the frontal lobes associated with higher mental functions like decision making, emotional control, and long term memory.

This study shows that blood sugar problems destroy your brain at an accelerated pace. Even participants with fluctuating blood sugar levels experienced 50 percent more brain shrinkage. Your brain must have a steady supply of blood sugar in the appropriate amounts to sustain optimal function. Fluctuating levels and especially levels that are too high induce wear and tear and contribute to poor mood and cognitive decline. High blood sugar triggers free radical damage as well as caramelization or cementing of flexible brain structures with sugar (advanced glycaton end products or AGES).

While this study was in older people it is certain brain decline is occurring in any person with fluctuating or elevated blood sugar, although possibly at a slower pace. However, the fact that such dramatic loss of one’s brain can occur in such a short period of time due to elevated blood sugar should be a wake-up call for any person with type 2 diabetes and even people with hypoglycemia.

Following the Leptin Diet and increasing exercise are two simple ways to change this adverse trend. Many supplements can help regulate blood sugar levels in a safe way and many nutrients also assist brain health. With type 2 diabetes happening at younger and younger ages it won’t be long before we have Alzheimer’s patients in their 30's.

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