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How Does Diabetes Affect The Brain

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The Dangers Of High Blood Glucose

How Does Diabetes and Hypertension Affect Your Brain Health

Some of diabetesâ effects on the brain arenât obvious right away, especially when they are related to high blood sugar.

âWith diabetes, you have an increased risk of damage to blood vessels over time, including damage to the small blood vessels in the brain. This damage affects the brainâs white matter,â says Joseph C. Masdeu, MD, PhD, of the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute.

White matter is the part of the brain where nerves talk to one another. When the nerves in the brain are damaged, you can have changes in thinking called vascular cognitive impairment or vascular dementia.

Vascular cognitive impairment can happen with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, but there are some differences in risk, says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

âThe longer you have diabetes , the more of a chance there is of developing dementia, but we see much less of it in people with type 1 whose diabetes is well-controlled,â he says.

People with type 2 may face a double-whammy because they tend to have other problems that also can cause blood vessel damage.

âThese patients tend to be less metabolically fit overall, with low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure, and they are more likely to be obese,â Zonszein says.

Diabetes can combine with these other problems to create inflammation that damages blood vessels, so good diabetes control is all the more important, he says.

Hypoglycemia And Cognitive Dysfunction

The impact of hypoglycemia on cognitive dysfunction has been studied but the Dutch meta-analysis found no clear association between long term cognitive impairment and episodes of severe hypoglycemia

In the short term, such as during or straight after a period of hypoglycemia, low blood glucose can have a pronounced effect on our ability to carry out tasks.

For this reason, people with low blood glucose levels should not carry out potentially dangerous activities such as driving or operating certain machinery.

The Usc Healthier Vessels Healthier Brain Study: Research To Understand How Early Diabetes Affects Capillaries Brain Cells And Memory Function

Dr. Helena Chui and the research team at the USC ADRCare conducting a study to determine how early diabetes affects capillaries, brain cells and cognitive abilities. USC is the home to the Stevens Institute of Neuroimaging and Informatics. We perform state of the art, high resolution MRI images of the brain and blood vessels. We have developed a new method of assessing capillary integrity using contrast MRI. We can measure hundreds of proteins, including insulin, insulin growth factor, beta-amyloid, tau proteins, omega-3-fatty acids from samples of cerebrospinal fluid. If you are interested in more information, please click here: or call the Research Center for more information and to set up a confidential screening phone interview: Lina DOrazio, Ph.D. 442-7680 or Maria Hernandez 442-6845.

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The Effects Of Low Blood Sugar

Without enough glucose for energy, your brain cant function properly. Low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia, can occur as a side effect of medication, after an intense workout, or if you skip a meal.

The lower your blood sugar, the worse the symptoms, which you can feel immediately. You may experience:

  • Trouble thinking and reasoning
  • Headaches, dizziness, and trouble talking or walking
  • Convulsions, seizures, or even a coma

What Blood Sugar Fluctuations Do To The Brain

Diabetes and Brain: How High &  Low Blood Sugar Affects Brain

Diabetes can cause two distinct blood sugar conditions:

  • HyperglycemiaHigh blood sugar from excess glucose in the blood. Ideally, blood sugar should be 140 mg/dL or less two hours after consuming a meal.
  • HypoglycemiaLow blood sugar from too little glucose in the blood. In diabetes, hypoglycemia is often provoked as a side effect of blood sugar lowering medications. Any blood sugar reading below 60 mg/dL is considered hypoglycemia.

In all forms of diabetes, one is susceptible to high and low blood sugars. Like the rest of the body, the brain relies on glucose to function. When glucose processing is impaired, the blood sugar levels remain too high or too low for long periods. This has negative repercussions on the brain and nervous system.

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How Can Diabetes Affect The Brain

If you have diabetes, high blood glucose levels can cause poor blood flow to your brain, making it more likely that you’ll have dementia or Alzheimer’s someday. A recent study showed that people with diabetes had more deterioration in the parts of their brain where problem-solving, decision-making, and memory take place. Due to brain damage caused by diabetes, they also had more depression, walked slower, and had more problems with balance. The best prevention — you guessed it! — is to keep your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible.Continue reading > >

Memory Dysfunction Induced By Diabetogenic Diets

Many studies in T2D animal models have employed diets rich in sugar and/or fat in order to induce T2D, namely, high-fat diet , high-sucrose diet, high-fructose diet, or the combination of some of them. Glucose intolerance develops promptly in rodents exposed to HFD, followed by a progressive increase of fasting insulin levels and metabolic derangements such as hepatic lipid accumulation . We have also recently reported that increasing the dietary amount of lard-based fat from 10 to 45 or 60% leads to slightly different diabetic phenotypes: compared to controls that were exposed to the low-fat diet, increased fed glycemia and plasma corticosterone were observed in mice fed a 60%- but not 45%-fat diet .

Similar degree of insulin resistance and of stress biomarkers in liver and pancreas have been observed in rats exposed to HFD, high-fructose diet, or the combination of both, compared to control diet . In mice, HFD feeding was found to cause elevated basal insulin levels, which was not observed in mice fed a combined high-fat and high-sucrose diet, despite similar energy intake and degree of glucose intolerance . The authors attributed this difference to the distinct effect on insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity.

In addition to the employment of different animal species or strains, such differences in dietary fat and sugar amounts are likely to explain that a variety of metabolic profiles are developed by experimental animal models in different studies.

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The Connection Between The Brain And Alzheimers & Diabetes

The Connection Between the Brain and Alzheimers & Diabetes

Research does suggest a close association between Diabetes and Alzheimers disease as well as Dementia. People with Type 2 Diabetes are more susceptible to developing Alzheimers when compared to people their own age who dont have diabetes. Many experts are now calling this connection as Diabetes Type 3. The link could easily lie in better understanding of IDE or Insulin-degrading enzyme. IDE is a major enzyme responsible for insulin degradation. In addition to insulin, IDE represents a pathophysiological link between type 2. Experts believe that IDE inhibitor may be the future of T2D treatment.

However, inflammation, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial dysfunction are common features in both Alzheimers disease and Type 2 Diabetes. Vascular cognitive impairment, which is a possible side effect of diabetes, is another cause of Alzheimers. Studies have also linked both Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimers disease to oxidative stress.

Effect On Mental Processing

How Diabetes Can Affect Your Brain

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.

Neurocognitive speed refers to how quickly and accurately you respond to situations. Its a useful gauge of overall brain health. Executive functioning refers to the planning, control, and monitoring of your own mental activities. Its crucial to success in everyday life, says Dr. Dixon.

The good news is that the deficits seen in this study were mild. And its possible they might be preventable. Dr. Dixon says, By controlling diabetes through medication and lifestyle changes, people may be able to control or limit its effects on the health of their brains.

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Diabetic Ketoacidosis: Cerebral Edema

Ketoacidosis happens when the body fails to produce sufficient amounts of insulin and begins to breakdown fat as an energy source. The blood becomes overly acidic during this process, as the body releases ketones. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a medical emergency from unmanaged diabetes.

A major complication of ketoacidosis is cerebral edema. Correcting blood sugar levels too quickly causes swelling of the brain. Younger children suffering from ketoacidosis are more likely to develop cerebral edema. Beginning signs of cerebral edema are mild changes in mental status such as confusion or irritability. The condition progresses into severe headaches, vomiting, seizures, low heart rate, high blood pressure, and increased intracranial pressure.

Artem PodrezPexels

Treatment For Brain Fog With Diabetes

To treat brain fog due to diabetes, its important that your blood sugar levels are in target range as much as possible.

The goal is to avoid blood sugar fluctuations. This means keeping your blood sugar within a healthy range not too high and not too low.

If youre prescribed medication to treat diabetes, take your medication as instructed and dont skip doses.

Also, follow any dietary instructions your healthcare provider recommends. If you feel that your brain fog isnt improving, talk to them.

Your healthcare provider may need to adjust your medication. Also, it might help to speak with a registered dietitian for guidance on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid with diabetes.

Managing your diabetes is important because not managing your condition can lead to potentially life threatening complications.

It can cause:

Brain fog should improve as your blood sugar returns to a healthy level.

In the meantime, the following tips can help you cope with cognitive dysfunction.

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Brain Function Irregular In Children With Type 1 Diabetes Study Says

The default mode network, which controls the brain at rest, does not switch off in children with Type 1 diabetes when they focus on a task, a study led by Stanford scientists has shown.

Allan Reiss

Children with Type 1 diabetes show subtle but important differences in brain function compared with those who dont have the disease, a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown.

The study, published online Dec. 9 in PLOS Medicine, is the first to evaluate what happens in the brains of children with diabetes during a cognitive task. On functional magnetic resonance imaging scans, when their brains were at work, children with diabetes displayed a set of abnormal brain-activity patterns that has been seen in many other disorders, including cognitive decline in aging, concussion, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and multiple sclerosis.

The study also reported that the abnormal brain-activity patterns were more pronounced in children who had had diabetes longer.

Our findings suggest that, in children with Type 1 diabetes, the brain isnt being as efficient as it could, said Lara Foland-Ross, PhD, senior research associate at the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford. Foland-Ross shares lead authorship of the paper with Bruce Buckingham, MD, professor emeritus of pediatrics at Stanford.

Glucose Homeostasis And Brain Functions

Diabetes May Affect Brain Function

The mammalian brain depends upon glucose as its key source of energy, and tight regulation of glucose metabolism is critical for brain physiology . In the human adult brain, neurons have the highest energy demand , requiring continuous delivery of glucose from blood. In human, the brain accounts for approximately 2% of the body weight, but it consumes approximately 20% of glucose-derived energy making it the primary consumer of glucose . Glucose metabolism provides the fuel for physiological brain function through the generation of ATP, the foundation for neuronal and non-neuronal cellular maintenance, as well as the generation of neurotransmitters. Glucose is required to provide the precursors for neurotransmitter synthesis and the ATP to fuel their actions as well as the brains energy demands not related to signaling. The largest proportion of energy in the brain is consumed for neuronal computation and information processing , e.g. the generation of action potentials and postsynaptic potentials generated after synaptic events, and the maintenance of ion gradients and neuronal resting potential . Additionally, glucose metabolism provides the energy and precursors for the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters. Importantly, astrocytic glycogen seems to be directly relevant for learning . All brain regions are metabolically active at all times, but there is a large heterogeneity among various brain structures.

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The United Brain Association No Mind Left Behind

Diabetes On The Brain

Scientists are still unsure exactly how type 2 diabetes might affect the brain. However, multiple factors are probably involved.

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 , which can kill brain cells.

In addition, type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, in which fat, muscle, and liver cells arent able to use insulin effectively. At first, the pancreas responds by pumping out more insulin. The same enzyme that breaks down insulin also breaks down a protein called beta-amyloid, which builds up abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimers disease. With so much of the enzyme at work breaking down insulin, beta-amyloid might have more chance to accumulate.

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Diabetes And The Brain: Changes And Damage

Understanding the nature of diabetes can shed light on what goes wrong in the brain.

  • When the body digests food, one of the byproducts is glucose, or sugar.
  • Glucose enters the bloodstream and travels around the body to enter cells and provide energy.
  • The hormone insulin is supposed to escort glucose into the cells of the body, but in diabetes, either the body doesnt make insulin or it doesnt make enough or use it efficiently .
  • Glucose remains in the bloodstream, building too high. This high blood sugar is called hyperglycemia. It damages blood vessels, nerves, and causes extensive damage.
  • Sometimes blood sugar drops too low, a condition called hypoglycemia. This is dangerous, too.

Problems with insulin and glucose help explain how diabetes affects the brain. Glucose is the brains main energy source, and both hyper- and hypoglycemia can cause harm. When this sugar is stuck in the bloodstream, it cant nourish the brain. It becomes starved of oxygen and nutrients, which compromise physical structures, hormones, and cognitive functioning. Chronic hyperglycemia stresses the brain, damages nerve cells, and harms both large and small blood vessels.

In diabetes, brain damage can be extensive, affecting areas such as the:

  • Hippocampus
  • Amygdala

Other casualties of diabetes include:

  • Atrophy
  • Reduced total brain volume
  • Changes in white matter

Diabetes And Mental Health

Brian Callaghan – How Diabetes, Obesity Impacts Brain and Nerve Function

Coping with a chronic condition is difficult. Those with diabetes are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Up to 50 percent of patients experience diabetes distress, which is a mental disorder that includes characteristics of stress, anxiety, and depression surrounding aspects of living with diabetes. The fear of managing blood sugar levels provokes great fear. For example, one may worry about prolonged high blood sugars or developing complications.

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Analysis Of Uk Biobank Dataset

General overview

UK Biobank data were analyzed for both cognitive and neuroimaging data. Datafield identifiers for all utilized features are shown in Supplementary file 1. The primary factor of interest was T2DM, which we dissociated from age-related effects by age matching T2DM and HC. To permit comparison of T2DM-specific effects to age-specific effects, we also assessed the same neurocognitive variables with age as a factor of interest from samples that excluded patients diagnosed with T2DM. To control for potential neurocognitive confounds, T2DM and HC were exact pairwise matched for not only age, but also sex, education, and hypertension status. T2DM status was assessed based on self-reported diagnosis by doctor. We considered education as a binary variable based on possession of a college degree. Hypertension was quantified using measured blood pressure values: all individuals with systolic blood pressure > 140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure > 90 mmHg were labeled with hypertension . To exclude potential confounding effects due to menopausal transition, particularly relevant to the youngest age group in our sample , we excluded all female subjects who did not report menopause or if they reported ongoing hormone therapy . To minimize the number of individuals with type 1 diabetes in our sample, rather than type 2 diabetes, we only included diabetic individuals with a self-reported age of onset 40 years .


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