Alzheimer’s and Diabetes Link Highlights Reasons to Stay Healthy Overall

  • Another study linking diabetes and Alzheimer's was covered in the online issue of the August 25thNeurology, and publicized by The Business Week article titled, "Link Between Diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease Strengthened," quotes Dr. Richard Bergenstal, president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association as saying, "Research has been linking diabetes to dementia, and probably to Alzheimer's, and this study is one more bit of evidence to say that we'd better get a handle on this."


    For readers interested in hard numbers, please click on the article link. The gist of the article is that people with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes should be extra careful to watch their blood sugar levels, since there are fairly definite links between uncontrolled blood sugars and dementia, likely of the Alzheimer's type.

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    As if people with diabetes didn't have enough to worry about! Taking care of our overall health in order to take care of our brain is not only for those with diabetes, however, so those of you with diabetes needn't feel alone.


    Many people, as they age, suffer from cholesterol problems. High cholesterol has been associated with risks for stroke and heart attack. High cholesterol has also shown signs that it could affect a person's risk for Alzheimer's disease.


    "Is Heart Healthy Good for the Brain?" is one of many articles where I've written about studies showing that efforts to hang onto good heart health, which includes exercise, diet and lowering cholesterol, have beneficial effects on our brains.


    Studies about vascular dementia have shown the same connection. That should be pretty obvious, since vascular dementia can be a symptom of other vascular health problems.


    Of course, with vascular health, as with Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, genetic risk plays a part. Just as diabetes risk is higher in the population with a genetic history of the disease, Alzheimer's disease and vascular problems occur with more frequency in families where the diseases have shown up generation after generation.


    Are we destined to have these diseases if we have the genetic factor? Not necessarily. Not every woman who has breast cancer in her family is going to get breast cancer. For these women, though, diet, exercise and controlling other health problems are all considered at least possibly preventative.


    Why wouldn't we want to do everything we can to prevent these diseases? Well, we're human. We want to prevent them. We really do. But prevention through diet, exercise, lowering cholesterol and controlling blood sugars takes discipline.

    Sometimes, these preventive measures represent denying ourselves foods we love and making ourselves work out, when we'd rather watch TV and vegetate.


    The diabetics I know who watch their blood sugar levels are troopers. It's not an easy disease to manage, and it takes an enormous amount of discipline to watch one's diet and do the regular blood sugar tests.


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    I admire people who stick to their guns and do what is best for their health, no matter what their risk factors. Frankly, I have a hard enough time disciplining myself to do the relatively simple things I need to maintain my health, such as yoga to keep flexible in the face of arthritis. I can't imagine having to carefully watch my blood sugar levels. I'd like to think I would, however, if I had diabetes and was convinced that doing so could possibly help me avoid Alzheimer's disease, as well.


    I hope I don't have to learn the hard way. Type 2 diabetes can happen to anyone as they age. Good health measures make sense for us all. It's that darned human factor that gets in my way.  do love my daughter-in-law's awesome cheese cakes.


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Published On: September 03, 2010