It’s well-known that diabetes can have a negative impact on your heart, kidneys, eyes and circulation, but now researchers are finding that it can affect your brain as well.
A new study published in the medical journal Diabetologia involving 5,000 people in the U.K. found that people with diabetes and its precursor, prediabetes, experience more severe long-term cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar levels.
Previous studies have indicated links before, but the U.K. study is notable for its size and the direct relationship it shows between blood sugar levels and cognitive function, even for those with prediabetes.
Results showed that over the course of the eight-year study, participants with diabetes or prediabetes had significantly decreased cognitive functions, such as memory and decision-making speed, compared to those with normal blood sugar levels.
On a more positive note, the researchers suggest that getting control of one’s blood sugar earlier can possibly slow the rate of cognitive decline.
“Our findings suggest that interventions that delay diabetes onset, as well as management strategies for blood sugar control, might help alleviate the progression of subsequent cognitive decline over the long-term,” the authors wrote.
Jodi Upchurch, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, stresses that there are many ways to manage diabetes.
“A healthy diet and regular exercise should become a way of life, no matter what type of diabetes you have or how long you have had it,” Upchurch says. “For many, this may be enough to control the diabetes for a while. If diet and exercise aren’t enough, there are many different types of medications to help your body manage blood sugar.”
Upchurch notes that each person’s diabetes is different, and what lowers blood sugar for one person may not work for someone else.
“Additionally, what works today may not always be what is needed to manage the disease,” she adds. “This is why it is important to check your blood sugars regularly and establish a good relationship with your health care team.”
—- Eureka diabetes educator talks managing care in wake of new study —