facebook pixel

Category: Nutrition

diabetes_brain_health_obesity

Diabetes, Obesity and Brain Health

Over the past several years I have been writing about the detrimental effects of type 2 diabetes on brain health. For example, we’ve seen an extensive amount of research published that shows a strong relationship between even subtle elevations of blood sugar and future risk for Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, we know that elevation of blood sugar is related to a reduction in size of the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus. As it turns out, this reduction is correlated with both a decline in cognitive function as well as mood disorders.

In a new study, just published in the journal Diabetalogia (dedicated to reporting on issues related to diabetes), researchers studied 100 individuals who were in the early stages of type 2 diabetes. The group was divided in half, with 50 patients being overweight and the other 50 having normal weight. The subjects were all studied with MRI scans of their brains, as well as various tests of memory, planning, and reaction times. All of the results were compared to 50 healthy control subjects who did not have diabetes.

The results of this study were really quite telling. The diabetic patients demonstrated significant brain changes in multiple areas, in both the deep white matter as well as in the brain’s cortex. Furthermore, and I think most importantly, the detrimental brain changes were worse in the diabetics who were overweight.

This study again reinforces the fact that our lifestyle choices, including diet and exercise, which profoundly influenced both our risk for type 2 diabetes as well as weight gain, are far more than cosmetic considerations. Type 2 diabetes is associated with as much as a quadrupling of the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. And, according to the results of this study, adding obesity to the picture clearly seems to worsen the situation.

The actionable information here is that we’ve got to maintain a diet that’s lower in sugar and carbohydrates, welcome healthful fat back to the table, be sure we’re getting plenty of good prebiotic fiber, and, by all means, make sure that exercise is part of the plan, every day.

  • TechnoTriticale

    Dr. Perlmutter, at some point could you give us an update on what is known about the purpose, function and capacity of the brain lymph system?

    Historically thought non-existent, it was discovered in the recent past that we do indeed have a deminimus lymph network in the brain. My suspicion is that if it has a role in clearing detritus (metabolic by-products, dead cells, toxins, etc.) that it’s probably pretty easy to overwhelm it.

    A full-time glycemic diet might suffice. A diet that opens the BBB to multiple mischief vectors might suffice (e.g. via grain-provoked zonulins). An inflammatory diet might suffice (e.g. high in Omega 6 linoleic acid). Consensus diet is, of course, all of these hazards and more.

    An impaired lymph system further implies an impaired immune system.

    If this lymph system matters, there’s also the question of how it operates. Does it have peristalsis, or does it rely on external factors for transport, such as overt body motion (i.e. exercise)?

    • Sarah Clegg

      Can’t recall where I came across it, but I think the mechanism of lymphatic drainage (and indeed blood flow) has been looked at in respect of the 4th phase of water.

  • Maegan Jones

    Hi David,

    First off, I came across your site and wanted to say thanks for providing a great diabetes resource to the community.

    This hilarious list, 29 Things Only a Person with Diabetes Would Understand, has really resonated with our followers because it provides emotional support and understanding in a comical way, and I thought you might enjoy it as well: http://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/would-understand

    Naturally, I’d be delighted if you share this list on http://www.drperlmutter.com/diabetes-obesity-and-brain-health/ , and/or on social , especially because they could really relate. Either way, keep up the great work David!

    All the best,
    Maegan


    Maegan Jones | Content Coordinator
    Healthline
    Your most trusted ally in pursuit of health and well-being

  • Angel

    I’ve witnessed with my own eyes, type II diabetics, practically have total brain freeze after eating their so called, healthy grains.! Some how they just never make the connection to grain consumption and feeling like they have to take a nap after eating. It’s mind boggling, wow! When I suggest at least trying gluten free for 2 weeks, they look at me with a blank stare. I don’t dare mention eliminating corn too. I just don’t get it.

    • mary

      I’m thankful that the negitive effects of gluten are out there in the public way more than a few years ago. I cut out gluten because I have an autoimmune disorder. I ate some Esikil Bread after being gluten free a few months and could not believe how I felt mentally. Foggy, anxiety and awful. Gluten’s effect on the brain is clear as crystal to me now and I tell it to everyone. Wheat was healthy probably 50 to 100 years ago. Not these days.

      • David Perlmutter

        Important that we all work together to keep sharing this information.

        • Ann Low

          amen!!!

  • JOE LYONS

    I HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON WITH MY MOM AND AUNT OWN MY DADS SIDE OF FAMILY. WE ALL HAVE PARKINSONS AND WE ALL DRANK DIET DR. PEPPER IN LARGE QUANITIES!!!!

  • JOE LYONS

    I HAD A HEART ATTACK WHEN I WAS ONLY 48. NOW I AM 68 AND HAVE TAKEN SEMIVANSTATINS FOR 20 YEARS. IT CAUSED ME TO HAVE TYPE 2 DIABETES. I ONLY TAKE 5 MG A NITE ,BUT WHEN I GET OFF THEM MY CHOLESTROL JUMPS FROM 170 TO 210 IN A MONTHS TIME!! I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO DO. I HAVE GONE FROM 231 TO 161 BUT IT DOESNT DO A THING ABOUT MY CHOLESTROL!!!!!

  • Nancy

    My question–If blood sugar levels are so important for brain health, then why don’t we hear about Type 1 diabetics getting dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease? Just curious.

  • Janet

    Janet
    I have been diabetic for about 10 years. I take 3 metformen a day. I occasionally have gotten gout in the past but recently I have gotten an attact at least once a month. Any suggestions?
    I have stopped eating the main foods to stop gout but there are many more. Thanks

  • Angie

    Can the damage be reversed with the proper diet of healthy fats, proteins and vegetables?

loading symbol Loading More