Diabetes has surprising effects on brain health

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In a fascinating study conducted by Michigan Medicine, researchers have delved into how long-term type 2 diabetes affects brain structure and function.

This study, involving 51 middle-aged Pima American Indians with type 2 diabetes, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to offer a closer look at the brain’s intricacies, alongside assessments of memory and language skills.

The findings revealed significant changes in the brains of those who have had type 2 diabetes for many years.

Notably, the outer layer of the brain was thinner, there was a decrease in gray matter, and an increase in white spots—changes that typically suggest brain deterioration.

However, in an unexpected twist, these structural changes did not correlate with any decline in memory or language abilities among the participants.

Their cognitive performance matched that of individuals without diabetes.

Evan Reynolds, a lead researcher in the study, emphasized the importance of these findings. Although the cognitive abilities of participants appeared unaffected, the physical changes observed in the brain are significant.

This suggests that even if diabetes patients are not currently experiencing cognitive impairments, they should be closely monitored for potential future changes in brain health.

Further, the study linked the presence of other diabetes-related health issues, such as kidney and nerve problems, to these brain changes.

Interestingly, the research indicated that while peripheral nerve damage is common in individuals with diabetes, it did not directly impact their cognitive test results.

Eva Feldman, a senior researcher on the team, stressed the importance of broader awareness regarding the potential risks diabetes poses to brain health. It’s crucial, she notes, to understand these risks to better manage and possibly mitigate them.

The research was supported by a team of experts from Michigan Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Monash University, and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, with financial backing from several notable institutions including Novo Nordisk, the American Academy of Neurology, and the National Institute on Aging.

While the findings reflect the authors’ interpretations and are independent of the supporting organizations, they mark an important step in understanding diabetes beyond its more recognized effects.

The study, detailed in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, invites further exploration into the nuanced impacts of diabetes on health.

This research underscores the importance of viewing diabetes from multiple perspectives. It’s not just about managing blood sugar levels but also about considering the broader implications on overall health, including brain health.

As research continues to uncover more about diabetes, it provides valuable insights that help refine our approaches to care and management, offering a more comprehensive understanding of this widespread condition.

If you care about dementia, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Vitamin B supplements could help reduce dementia risk.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that high-fiber diet could help lower the dementia risk, and these antioxidants could help reduce dementia risk.

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