A woman walks down a path, with thought bubbles around her illustrating healthy habits like exercise, sleep and healthy eating.

How to Lower Your Risk of Dementia With Type 2 Diabetes

Last updated: December 2022

Dementia is a devastating disease to individuals and families around the world. And doctors have noticed that living with type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of dementia.1

If you have type 2 diabetes, is there anything that can be done to help lower your risk of dementia? A recent study published online in the journal Neurology found that there are 7 healthy lifestyle habits that can reduce the risk of developing dementia in people living with diabetes.1

These habits include physical activity, sleeping long enough, healthy eating, social contact, not smoking, moderate alcohol intake, and less sedentary behavior. Let's review each of these habits to see how you can decrease your dementia risk.1

Physical activity

Yes, of course, this means exercise. But any body movement can be considered exercise, especially if it is more frequent than usual. If this feels overwhelming, try thinking outside the box. Mall walking is a great way to move your body. Invite a friend!

Walking, lifting, chair yoga, biking, dancing, swimming, or jogging with a partner is always extra enjoyable. Try using what you have at home, such as small dumbbells, or walking up and down your stairs a few times. An increase in body movement may not only decrease your dementia risk but also help with your diabetes maintenance!1

Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is very important. Some things that may get in the way of sleep are not moving your body enough during the day, consuming too much caffeine, and even spending a lot of time looking at a screen. Try to establish a good bedtime routine that calms your body and mind to prepare you for slumber.

Healthy eating

Eating various fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats is a great step toward a healthy diet. If you are turned off by the foods you think of as healthy, try browsing for new recipes based on your favorite ingredient. Sometimes you can be stuck in a rut, but a little inspiration may be all it takes to move you in the right direction!

Social contact

Humans are social creatures. Of course, there are varying levels of being social, but spending time with friends and family can boost your mood. And it may lead to a decreased risk of dementia! Try making a weekly date with a friend or loved one.1

Not smoking

If you smoke regularly, here is yet another reason to try to quit. Smoking is a risk factor for all kinds of preventable diseases. If you are struggling with quitting, talk to your doctor about which tactics may work best for you.

Moderate alcohol intake

Excessive alcohol intake can lead to dependency, which can have many nutritional effects. Alcohol can also cause blood sugar changes in people living with diabetes.2

When talking with your doctor, be as honest as you can about the amount of alcohol you drink daily or weekly. They will help you decide whether your intake is within a healthy range or should be decreased.

Less sedentary behavior

We touched on physical activity above, but being less sedentary is another healthy habit. This means that if you regularly sit at a desk all day for work and then go home and sit on the couch to unwind, it is time to make a change.

Try taking small standing or stretching breaks at work at least once per hour. Treadmill desks have also become a popular way to move your body while still working. Another quick way to increase your movement is to skip the car on short trips. If you can walk to school, church, or the grocery store, go for it! You may also encourage those around you to do the same.

If you have specific questions about lifestyle changes you could make to reduce your dementia risk, be sure to speak to your doctor.

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