Type 2 diabetics are already aware of the risk for developing common diabetic complications such as diabetic neuropathy, kidney disease, heart disease, and amputation. But what many type 2 diabetics don’t know, is that they are at increased risk for developing chronic degenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In some patients, these conditions, primarily characterized by the steady and sometimes rapid cognitive decline they impose on their victims, have been shown to follow an initial diagnosis of diabetes. Doctors aren’t yet certain what exactly causes the relationship between diabetes and mental decline, but it is suspected that insulin resistance or insulin deficiency may be responsible for damaging brain cells, resulting in varying degrees of memory loss.
80% of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s have been previously diagnosed or shown signs of diabetes, or an interruption of glucose metabolism. Fortunately, some of the same diet and lifestyle modifications that are recommended to keep diabetes in check, also prove beneficial for mitigating the risk for cognitive decline. Eating a diet that is low in sugar and simple carbs, high in healthy fat sources, are all-around nutrient dense, in addition to leading an active lifestyle can provide a certain level of protection against the troublesome effects of conditions that interfere with the mind’s function. Some doctors refer to this protocol as the ‘brain-healthy lifestyle.’
For type 2 diabetics, regular check-ups are important. During these check-ups, the feet are thoroughly examined, glucose levels are monitored and recorded, and the overall health of the patient is assessed. It’s important to use this time with your doctor to discuss how you’ve been doing. If you’ve noticed any mental decline or brain fog that is uncharacteristic for you, it’s crucial to share this information with your doctor. Early detection is key – and if you’re showing signs of mental decline as a result of a poorly controlled or undermanaged condition, speaking up early could make the difference between being able to halt the decline of cognitive functioning and losing it completely over time.
Natural supplementation with coconut oil, fish oil, rosemary, and a variety of vitamins are supported by the medical community. These supplementations support brain health, and are virtually safe for any diabetic to take – serving as a great adjunct to other forms of therapy. Recently, explorative research in stem cell therapy has shown the promise in being able to help retrain a patient’s cells to properly process glucose. As research continues to support and validate this correlation, and doctors become increasingly aware of the connection between diabetes and cognitive impairment, it’s likely that more diabetics will be spared the comorbid diagnosis.
Whether or not a person develops Alzheimer’s as a complication of diabetes depends on several easy to control factors. It all boils down to how well the diabetes is controlled in a patient. This factor seems to predict the outcome for sustained cognitive function throughout the lifespan. The leaders in functional medicine agree that when a natural approach is assumed as early as possible, the experience of side effects is lessened, the progression of disease can be halted or even reversed as the body is supported to self-heal.