(NaturalNews) New research confirms that diabetics have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Stockholm Gerontology Research Center reported that people with diabetes are 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's compared to those with normal blood sugar levels.
Type II diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, a condition where chronic high blood sugar levels have caused an overproduction of insulin. Along with many other side effects, high insulin levels produce inflammation in the body. This inflammation can cause damage in the brain.
"Diabetes does damage some of the vessels particularly neuropathy, which is when your nerves and vessels are damaged in your feet. And now they're saying that damage has gone as far as even brain cells," states Kelly O'Connor, a diabetes educator with Mercy Medical Center.
Another study, led by Rachel A. Whitmer of the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente in California, looked at the history of more than 22,000 patients with Type II diabetes whose records had been followed for eight years. The study revealed that higher blood sugar counts correlated with an increased risk of developing dementia. Those with very high blood sugar levels showed a dramatically increased risk of dementia.
"With the whole diabetes epidemic we're seeing much more Type II, so are we going to see even more Alzheimer's than we thought we would see? If we continue in this direction, it's a little bit frightening," says Dr. Whitmer.
For someone with type II diabetes, when blood sugar rises, brain function begins to slow. This occurs even before a diabetic may notice symptoms of blood sugar swings, which is why it is so important for diabetics to develop lifestyle habits that help them control their blood sugar.
The link between diabetes and Alzheimer's goes even deeper. In both diseases, there is a buildup of the protein amyloid--in the brain in Alzheimer's patients, and in the pancreas in those with diabetes. Too much insulin, a condition common in diabetics, can contribute to the buildup of amyloid in the brain.
"It by no means means that you're going to develop Alzheimer's disease, and certainly many people with Alzheimer's don't have diabetes," says Dr. Ralph Nixon of New York University, vice chairman of the Alzheimer's Association's scientific advisory council. His advice for diabetics is not to panic.
While there may be no reason to panic, there is strong urging for both diabetics and pre-diabetics to take every measure possible to properly manage blood sugar levels. And since diabetes is a disease which develops because of years of high blood sugar, even people who are not yet at risk for diabetes should do what they can to stay that way.
Managing your blood sugar is not at all complicated. Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are two simple ways to combat diabetes. It's also important to consider how your eating habits affect your blood sugar. Refined carbohydrates and sugar are especially known for causing high blood sugar. Eating carbohydrates alone can cause blood sugar to spike, so try eating whole carbohydrates with some protein and healthy fat to prevent this. Making permanent healthy lifestyle habits is your best chance at preventing disease.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welcome.html
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