September 28th, 2011 at 12:56 pm
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Study shows diabetes doubles risk for Alzheimer’s disease

by Carol Bursack

A recent study in Japan discovered that older individuals with diabetes were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without diabetes. Because it is generally accepted in the medical community that diabetes increases risk factors for several illnesses, including heart disease, I was skeptical that this breaking news was more than a media headline for want of something better.

However, I soon saw that these study results are indeed breaking news.

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s: the dramatic risk

According to an article from Health.com, the study–which included over 1,000 men and women over the age of 60–found that those with diabetes were 1.75 times more likely to develop any form of dementia and were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s within the next 15 years.

Although researchers haven’t quite pinpointed the exact link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s, they are focusing on factors such as insulin resistance, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. As researchers continue to unlock the mysteries between Alzheimer’s and diabetes, other studies are currently underway that seek to discover if reducing type 2 diabetes risk factors and controlling blood sugar levels can also reduce the risk of dementia.

Preventing diabetes starts with a healthy lifestyle

The Alzheimer’s Association has a slogan that reads, “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.” It seems that, while genetic factors figure into diabetes risk, many people can still beat the odds by changing their lifestyle. Most of us don’t like hearing it, but it is true. Some of the responsibility lies within ourselves.

We need to do the following:

  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Avoid obesity
  3. Eat a healthy diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, more fish than red meat, fewer processed foods, whole grains, as well as healthy oils. We also need to cut down on our sugar intake.

Keeping the mind sharp: socialization is important

It’s not likely that a rewarding social life can prevent type 2 diabetes, which is associated with aging, but many studies have shown socialization may lower our risk for dementia. Likely, socialization can lower the risk for other ailments as well, because social well-being can lower stress hormones. Stress hormones can affect nearly every aspect of our health.

So, we’re back to basics. There’s no magic pill. We are told that we need to take good care of our body in order to keep our minds healthy. It’s up to us to follow through.

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