Is Sugar Good for the Brain or Bad for It?
Diabetes is a disease that no one wants to have. When insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels, becomes deficient or ineffective, the body suffers from chronically high blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes results when inadequate amounts of insulin are produced; type 2 develops when the body doesn’t use insulin properly. In both cases, the resulting damage to blood vessels harms every organ in your body, including your brain.
Being overweight (diabetes + obesity = diabesity) makes things worse. Recent research revealed that people with early stage Type 2 diabetes who were also overweight had more severe and progressive abnormalities in brain structures and cognition than normal weight type 2 diabetics. The temporal lobe, which is one of the first brain regions to show changes in Alzheimer’s disease, was particularly vulnerable.
My wife, Tana, and I have both lost loved ones and friends to the scourge of diabetes. We have seen first-hand how devastating the disease can be to someone’s health, happiness and life—and to their families.
But diabetes doesn’t have to ruin your life. This is a disease that can be prevented—and even, in some cases, reversed—through simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising more and eating a healthy diet, with more fiber, vegetables and fruit.
Diabesity is one of the risk factors in the Amen Clinics BRIGHT MINDS Program, which identifies and treats the 11 risk factors that can rob you of your memory and your mind. Research shows that addressing all of these vulnerabilities is the best way to keep your memory strong for life.
The list below includes all 11 risks, summed up in the words BRIGHT MINDS, which makes it easier to remember them:
B – Blood Flow
R – Retirement/Aging
I – Inflammation
G – Genetics
H – Head Trauma
T – Toxins
M – Mental Health
I – Immunity/Infection Issues
N – Neurohormone Deficiencies
D – Diabesity
S – Sleep Issues
If you are overweight or getting on in years (age is a primary risk factor for diabetes), make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss these lab tests:
- Hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c, a test that measures blood sugar levels over approximately three months
- Fasting glucose
- Fasting insulin
It is also important to know your waist to height ration (WHtR), which you can calculate by dividing your waist size (in inches) by your height (in inches). A woman with a 30-inch waist who is 5’4” (64”) would divide 30 by 64 to get a WHtR or 46.8 percent. A ratio that’s less than 50 percent is considered healthy. Use a tape measure to get an accurate waist size!
The other critical number to know is your body mass index, or BMI, which is a measurement that compares your weight to your height. An optimal BMI is 18.5 to 25; overweight is 25 to 30; over 30 is considered obese. Several online calculators will give you your BMI if you plug in your weight and height.
To lower your risk of diabetes and pre-diabetes, the precursor to type 2 diabetes, adopt these healthy habits:
- Don’t drink your calories—the healthiest beverage is water
- Start the Memory Rescue Diet; more on that below
- Lose weight slowly and steadily if you are overweight so you can develop good lifelong habits
- Exercise! Along with diet and weight loss, it’s one of the most important lifestyle habits to adopt, according to the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study—the first randomized, controlled lifestyle intervention study to show that in persons with impaired blood sugar tolerance, type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle changes
- Take a good multivitamin/mineral, vitamin D, magnesium and an omega-3 EPA/DHA supplement daily
- Consider supplementing with chromium picolinate, berberine, cinnamon and alpha-lipoic acid
- Eat low glycemic, high fiber, nutrient-dense foods, and be sure that every meal contains protein and fat to stabilize blood sugar and cravings
- Use cinnamon and nutmeg in cooking
- Add fiber-rich foods to your diet: broccoli, spinach, lentils, green peas, winter squash, cabbage, green beans, coconut, artichokes, chickpeas and chia seeds
- Avoid sugar! It has no nutritional benefit and depletes chromium and other vitamins and minerals
- Stay away from low-fiber foods, including white and wheat bread, pasta and white potatoes and rice
In the video below, Dr. Daniel Amen discusses diabesity and the role diet plays in rescuing your memory today!
To learn more about Amen Clinics Memory Program based on Dr. Amen’s BRIGHT MINDS approach, check it out HERE.