Diabetes Can Affect Your Brain

Diabetes can have an impact on your whole body. Your brain is no exception. Recent studies have linked type 2 diabetes to a slowdown in mental functioning and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The chance of brain complications is just one more reason to keep your diabetes under control. “High blood sugar may directly affect either nerve cells or support cells in the nervous system,” says Alan Jacobson, M.D., emeritus professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “It can also lead to damage in both large and small blood vessels.” This, in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain. Plus, it increases the risk of having a stroke, which can kill brain cells. Research has linked type 2 diabetes to a decline in mental functioning. One study looked at which mental abilities were hardest hit in middle-aged and older adults with diabetes. The results pointed to neurocognitive speed and executive functioning. “These are thought to be major components of cognitive health,” says researcher Roger Dixon, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Alberta. (HealthGrades.com)