It’s all linked together

Wednesday’s blog was about dementia. Sunday’s blog was about diabetes. Today’s blog will mesh the two – as did today’s online New York Times.

Poorly controlled diabetes leads to elevations in blood sugar. In turn, these elevations affect the memory area of the brain. Dementia is a loss of cognitive function, often first noticed as lapses in memory.

According to Bruce S. McEwen, of Rockefeller University, these findings are “compelling” because of the increase of Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.

“Compelling” indeed! At a time when intelligence and education give a competitive edge in the economy, we are looking at a potential decline in intellectual functioning in an increasing large segment of our population. Even worse, this segment holds the future of our country.

Regular exercise has been found to improve cognitive function in older individuals, both with and without diabetes. Exercise helps control blood sugar levels. Exercise is also important in weight maintenance or reduction. Being over-weight is a risk factor for heart disease. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack in men and even more in women.

So – my advice? Take care of a lot of things at once: lower your blood sugar, maintain your weight and lower your risk of heart attack. Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!

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Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN

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