Controlling blood sugar can boost brain health for diabetics: Study

What if we tell you that controlling your blood sugar levels can improve your ability to think clearly, learn and remember. Too good to be true? Then read this.
brain exercise
Embroidery and even dancing can help you improve your brain health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
ANI Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 04:15 pm IST
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Diabetes affects each and every part of your body—then be it your body’s wound healing abilities or your energy levels. Unfortunately, your brain is also a part of this onslaught at the hands of the disease. 

However, researchers have found that people with type 2 diabetes who can control their blood sugar levels better have improved brain health than those who don’t. 

While diabetes is a lifestyle disease and can affect your life in many ways, with proper management of blood sugar everything can be handled smoothly. Owen Carmichael, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Biomedical Imaging at Pennington Biomedical Research Center says, “It’s important to properly control your blood sugar to avoid the bad brain effects of your diabetes.

“Don’t think you can simply let yourself get all the way to the obese range, lose some of the weight, and everything in the brain is fine. The brain might have already turned a corner that it can’t turn back from,” added Carmichael.

The new paper examined close to 1,100 participants. One group of participants was invited to three sessions each year that focused on diet, physical activity, and social support. The other group changed their diet and physical activity through a program designed to help them lose more than seven per cent of their body weight in a year and maintain that weight loss. 

controlling blood sugar
Get hold of your blood sugar levels to have better brain health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Also, read: 5 diabetes superfoods that can help you control your blood sugar naturally

Cognitive tests–tests for thinking, learning, and remembering–were given to participants between 8 to 13 years after they started the study. The research team theorized that people with greater improvements in blood sugar levels, physical activity and weight loss would have better cognitive test scores.

This hypothesis proved partially true. Reducing your blood sugar levels did improve test scores. But losing more weight and exercising more did not always raise cognitive test scores. “Every little improvement in blood sugar control was associated with a little better cognition,” Dr Carmichael said. “Lowering your blood sugar from the diabetes range to prediabetes helped as much as dropping from prediabetes levels to the healthy range.”

People who lost more weight improved their executive function skills: short-term memory, planning, impulse control, attention, and the ability to switch between tasks. But their verbal learning and overall memory declined.

“The results were worse for people who had obesity at the beginning of the study. That’s a ‘too little, too late’ type of message,” he said. “People with diabetes who let their obesity go too far, for too long may be past the point of no return, cognition-wise.”

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In conclusion, the researcher says that increasing physical activity also generated more benefits for people who were overweight compared to those with obesity. So managing your diabetes can be the way to better cognitive processes.

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