“Having a little sugar” – many people still think of diabetes as a harmless side effect against which little can or must be done. The opposite is the case in several respects: It is a serious metabolic disease that is increasing dramatically in the western world. And: Type 2 diabetes in particular could be avoided by changing one’s lifestyle.
This not only brings the out of control insulin release back into balance. Anyone who reduces their risk of developing type 2 diabetes through a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, exercise and avoidance of overweight/obesity also reduces the risk of dementia. Type 2 diabetics with an early onset of the disease are three times more likely to suffer from a brain dysfunction later on.
“Even prediabetes is associated with an increased risk of dementia. However, this can be explained by the development of the metabolic disease. However, an onset of diabetes at a relatively early age (before the age of 60; note) correlates strongly with the occurrence of dementia. So early prevention of the transition from prediabetes to (type 2) diabetes could also significantly prevent future burden of dementia,” write Jiaqi Hu and Elizabeth Sevon of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Baltimore) in Diabetologia, the Journal of the European Diabetes Research Society.
The scientists looked at the course of development of type 2 diabetes and the onset of dementia in a population of 11,656 participants in a study of atherosclerosis in three US regions. The value for the medium-term sugar load of red blood cells (HbA1c) was determined for the first time in the years 1990 to 1992. Such a value of 5.7 to 6.4 percent is considered prediabetes, above that (more than 6.5 percent) there is diabetes. Even during the initial examination, 20 percent of the participants showed the precursor to (initially) non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Follow-up examinations were then carried out until 2011/2013. A dementia test (Mini-Mental State Examination – MMSE) was also carried out three times.
Young diabetics more at risk
The results speak for the fact that one should obviously use all available means – that is, first of all, changing to a healthier lifestyle with losing weight etc. – to prevent a transition from prediabetes to diabetes. In the future, this could also be seen from the point of view of dementia prevention. The scientists: “An early onset of diabetes showed the strongest correlation with dementia: a 2.92-fold increased risk in type 2 diabetes before the age of 60.” The onset of diabetes between the ages of 60 and 79 increased the risk of brain dysfunction by 73 percent, and in the 70 to 79 age group by almost a quarter (plus 23 percent).
At the moment, however, one has to assume that around 70 percent of people with prediabetes will also slip into full-blown diabetes. According to estimates – there is no precise register in Austria despite many years of expert requests – around 800,000 people in Austria suffer from diabetes. In addition, there are around 350,000 people with the precursor to the metabolic disease.
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