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Diabetes and Memory Loss: Is There a Link?

One of the troublesome side effects of menopause for many women is the dreaded, and mostly unhealthy, weight gain. There are numerous health consequences related to being overweight, from knee problems to more serious cardiovascular issues. But one potential consequence of extra weight that women either approaching or in menopause should work hard to prevent is diabetes.

HFN 106 DiabetesandMemoryLoss2 F31491501It is not only a very serious disease often difficult to manage, but now there is concern that there may be a link between diabetes and memory loss.

Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. When it starts, many individuals may notice symptoms such as excessive thirst and hunger, frequent urination, and fatigue. These mild physiological issues can, however, quickly evolve into significant health problems. Without diabetes management, patients can suffer a host of life-threatening complications, including hypertension, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, hearing and vision loss, and neuropathy (nerve damage), amongst others. Additionally, medical experts are now finding a higher occurrence of memory loss in diabetic patients.

What is the Link between Diabetes and Memory Loss?
Diabetes is a damaging disease because it wreaks havoc on both the cardiovascular and central nervous system. Complications such as hearing and vision loss or neuropathy stem from high blood glucose levels that have damaged blood vessels in the ears and eyes and nerve endings in the extremities. This is also why diabetes is detrimental to a person’s memory capabilities.

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It’s comprised of an intricate system of nerve cells that require constant access to nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood to thrive. Though the causal relationship between high blood glucose levels and nerve and blood vessel damage has yet to be fully understood, it is widely acknowledged that unchecked diabetes will quickly destroy these essential brain structures.

The brain commands how we think, remember, speak, and solve problems. Though researchers are still determining the many links between diabetes and memory loss, it stands to reason that memory loss can be an early sign of other documented diabetic-related cognitive complications like dementia.

How Can Diabetic Patients Prevent Memory Loss?
The most effective way for diabetic patients to avert the onset of memory loss is to engage in consistently healthy lifestyle choices and weight maintenance. In particular, individuals with type 2 diabetes must be vigilant about their weight. A direct correlation has been found between obesity and high blood glucose levels, so the more control a person has over her weight, the better her chances in avoiding memory loss.

To maintain a healthy weight, physicians recommend that patients eat a balanced diet that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins such as baked or broiled chicken or turkey and some fish, and whole grains such as brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat products. Implementing a regular physical fitness regimen can also prove effective in keeping both your weight and blood glucose levels down. Remember, when it comes to diabetes management, you have the power to reduce or avert the problems that commonly come with it and even prevent it in the first place. ♀

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