Dementia. It’s something most of us fear as we head toward our latter years—and for a good reason. At the present time, 1 in 11 people in the United States over the age of 65 is affected by dementia, and between 2000 and 2017, the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s increased by 145 percent!
what is the diabetes-dementia link?
There’s increasing evidence that Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes are linked. Some even suggest that Alzheimer’s be classified as “type 3 diabetes”! But what is the link, and how can you reduce your risk?
In 2017, researchers from the Mayo Clinic found an established link between Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes. A recent meta-analysis found that people with diabetes had a 56 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s and a 127 percent higher risk of vascular dementia. Diabetes also appears to increase the risk of cognitive decline, particularly the longer you have the condition.
The reasons for this association are not fully understood but are most likely related to several different mechanisms, including reduced blood flow to the brain, oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Researchers from the Mayo Clinic also found that some people have a gene called APOE4 that significantly increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by interfering with the brain’s ability to use insulin. This is where the reference to “type 3 diabetes” or “diabetes of the brain” comes from.
how to reduce your risk of diabetes and dementia
There’s good evidence that at least half the risk of dementia is attributed to lifestyle factors, including diet, exercise, and smoking. Equally important, having the APOE4 gene does not mean that Alzheimer’s is inevitable, and those with this genotype can benefit even more from making some simple lifestyle changes. Advanced accredited practicing dietitian and credentialed diabetes educator Kate Marsh looked at the link between the two conditions and how nutrition and lifestyle changes can help to prevent or, at least, decrease the risk.
Studies have shown that staying active, eliminating alcohol and smoking, reducing the amount of saturated fats you eat, and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce your risk.
While usually diagnosed later in life, disease processes contributing to dementia occur over several decades. Besides adopting healthy lifestyle habits, keeping your brain mentally active and addressing loneliness, anxiety, and depression are also very important.
Eating more foods rich in vitamin B12 can also help reduce risk. Vegans and vegetarians are at greater risk of vitamin B12 deficiency because this nutrient is found almost exclusively in animal foods. However, plant-based milk products, such as soy and almond are fortified with vitamin B12.
Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. Visit sanitarium.com.au and subscribe to Wholicious Living for more great health and nutrition info each month.