Can what a person eats throughout adulthood play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia later in life? According to Harvard Health Publishing, “recent studies have shown that diabetes increases your risk of dementia.” One such study by the Department Epidemiology of Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases, Université de Paris found that “younger age at diabetes onset was associated with higher risk of subsequent dementia” as an older adult.
Type 2 diabetes has also been linked to vascular, cardiovascular, and other health conditions that raise the risk for strokes, heart attacks, or overall poor quality of life. These issues, which result in poor heart health, are noted to increase the development of dementia. And while there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, losing weight, eating well, and exercising can help manage diabetic disease. Therefore, proper diet and fitness-focused measures can be taken as a preventative action early on in one’s life to also help prevent dementia.
Creating a Diet that Works for You
Diabetes causes the pancreas to not produce enough insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into the cells. Cells respond poorly to insulin and take in less sugar. So, when taking preventative measures to reduce the risk of diabetes and dementia, it is crucial to talk to your doctor and formulate a plan that works for your body. Building a diet low in simple sugars, yet high in proteins (to increase your body’s ability to digest and use energy from complex sugars) could be an important first step.
Examples of Simple Sugars
- Baked Goods
- Processed White Bread
Examples of Complex Sugars
- Whole Wheat Pasta
Building a diet with a strong foundation based on complex sugars, proteins, healthy fats, vitamin and fiber rich foods like vegetables, is also a great way to develop overall healthy eating habits. A strong, obtainable diet allows you to have treats in moderation, while ensuring that you are keeping your pancreas and brain happy.
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The intricate link between diabetes and dementia underscores the significance of a holistic approach to healthcare for people living with dementia or at risk of developing the disease. As research continues to unveil the intricate mechanisms connecting these two conditions, it becomes increasingly clear that managing diabetes effectively may contribute not only to better glycemic control but also to the preservation of cognitive function.
Recognizing and addressing the shared risk factors, such as vascular complications and insulin resistance, can serve as a pivotal step in preventing or mitigating the onset of dementia in individuals with diabetes. By fostering collaboration between diabetes and dementia care strategies, caregivers and people living with dementia can advocate for more comprehensive and targeted interventions by healthcare professionals and ultimately enhance the overall well-being and quality of life for those affected by these interconnected health challenges.