Type 2 Diabetes and Cognitive Function

Type 2 Diabetes and Cognitive Function

What is cognitive function and why should you be concerned about it as someone who has type 2 diabetes? Cognitive function: brain activity that leads to the gain of knowledge. This would include memory, language, attention and reasoning. It’s how we learn, basically. This article highlights a possible link between type 2 diabetes and loss of cognitive function. In other words, people with type 2 may be at a greater risk of developing cognitive decline.

Type 2 diabetes cognitive function

The study involved 40 people, some with diabetes and some without, with an average age of 66. The participants were given cognitive tests and MRIs to determine the blood flow to their brains and level of inflammation in their bodies. They were tested again after two years and the results were compared. Results showed that the people with type 2 diabetes had reduced blood flow to the brain and they also scored lower on the cognitive tests after two years than their non-diabetic counterparts.

The authors of the study acknowledge that there needs to be further, longer studies that include younger people in order to determine how quickly this decline develops and whether there are other factors at play other than diabetes. However, they do feel that this is significant information to help further the understanding of cognitive decline in older adults.

Is high blood glucose a risk factor?

Previous studies have pointed to high blood glucose as an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s as discussed in this article. Alzheimer’s disease has even been called “type 3 diabetes”. It’s important to note that this paper looked at studies done on mice only. Further studies will need to be done but it is hoped that medications used to control type 2 diabetes may also help in treating patients who have developed Alzheimer’s.

I know what you’re thinking: Great, another complication I have to worry about! Remember that these are inconclusive studies, most often performed on mice, not humans. It’s important that we be aware of these possibilities, but it doesn’t mean we have to live in fear.

What can you do to reduce the risk?

What can we do? We can do what we’ve been doing all along: do our best to keep our blood glucose within range. Limiting the time that your blood glucose is too high is a great way to stave off any of the possible complications people with type 2 diabetes face (or anyone with diabetes of any type!) Another thing you can do is activities to help improve your memory, many of which you’re already doing. The Mayo Clinic lists these as ways to improve your memory: stay mentally active, socialize, be organized, sleep well, eat a healthy diet, exercise and control any chronic illnesses that you have. Brain teasers, word puzzles and “brain games” are another way to keep your mind sharp.

We all know that having diabetes can cause us to have complications, but that isn’t a guarantee. Live your life, attempt to manage your diabetes as best you can and try not to worry too much about things that haven’t happened and may never occur!

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