April 22, 2010

Is there a Relation Between Diabetes and Memory Problems?

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Diabetes is an incurable lifestyle disease. The body’s inability to produce or utilize insulin to metabolize the sugar present in the body cause high blood glucose levels. One of the complications of diabetes is short-term memory loss. Latest studies show that the complications of diabetes may extend to brain that affects memory, cognitive skills, and concentration of the patient.

Diabetes and Memory Loss

Memory loss is one of the lesser known symptoms of diabetes. However, poorly-controlled diabetes can cause memory loss. In order to maintain normal function of the brain, people need a constant supply of glucose from their blood. During periods of high blood sugar or low blood glucose, memory loss and reduced brain functioning occur as the brain runs on glucose and brain glucose storage is limited.

People with high levels of blood sugar experience memory loss. Due to the high blood sugar, the blood vessels in the brain get damaged, resulting in the decreasing amount of oxygen reaching the brain. The functioning of the brain begins to decline and memory loss could begin to occur. Recent researches show that diabetics have a high risk of developing diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The passage of signals from one nerve cell to another is known as neurotransmission, and to function properly, the brain requires a constant supply of glucose. There is a risk of failing of the neurotransmission in diabetics, resulting in short term memory problems.

Further, the hippocampus is region of the brain regulates a person’s ability to remember facts and events. A recent study shows that people with high blood sugar levels have much smaller hippocampus region when compared to normal, healthy people. This also explains memory loss in diabetes.

Additionally, low blood glucose levels directly affect the memory of an individual. That’s why, memory problems in diabetes with low blood sugar occur. The brain is deprived of getting an adequate amount of oxygen resulting in memory disorders. Similarly, high blood glucose level also has a direct effect on the brain and can reduce the blood flow to the brain. It affects the region of the brain that controls memories.

Even though, the damage caused due to diabetes is irreversible, one can curtail further damage. Lifestyle and diet changes can help to avoid further deterioration of the brain. Besides obesity and sedentary lifestyle, poor glucose regulations also lead to high blood sugar levels. By controlling blood sugar level, a person can overcome the symptoms of diabetes.

What Can be Done?

In order to avert diabetes memory loss, patients should incorporate mental exercises along with regular physical exercise and a healthy, balanced diet. Reading, solving crossword puzzles, and other mental workouts help to keep the mind active and help to keep disorders like Alzheimer’s at bay.

Diabetic patients should include the dietary profile that contains food sources like lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grain based foods and low fat dairy products. These food sources help to nourish the brain while keeping the glucose levels down. Food sources that are rich in magnesium, zinc and chromium also help to improve brain activities. A regular exercise regime also helps to increase blood flow to the brain.

Patients who are unable to maintain blood sugar level may experience memory loss, so monitoring blood sugar level regularly and keeping it under control can help to avoid diabetes memory loss.

The brain is an organ that tends to improve with continuous usage. Thus, being mentally fit is essential to resolve short term memory problems in diabetes. In order to keep the brain alive and sharp, stimulation and exercise of the brain is important. In other words, keeping the brain stimulated helps to strengthen the mental abilities.