Prediabetes – a precursor to type 2 diabetes that affects roughly 84 million Americans – could worsen brain health, according to a new study.
British researchers found that people with prediabetes had a 42% higher risk of mental decline than people with normal blood sugar levels over a four-year period. They were also 54% more likely to develop vascular dementia, a condition caused by decreased blood flow to the brain, over eight years.
The study, published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, analyzed the UK biobank data from around 500,000 people.
The association between prediabetes and cognitive decline persisted even after considering risk factors such as age, smoking, weight, and heart disease. However, researchers found no association with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.
“As an observational study, it cannot be shown that higher blood sugar levels lead to deterioration in brain health. However, we believe that a possible link needs further investigation,” said Victor Garfield, a researcher at University College London US News & World Report.
Still, the study confirmed previous research suggesting that the high blood sugar levels caused by diabetes increase the risk of dementia.
The researchers found that people with full-blown type 2 diabetes had three times the risk of developing vascular dementia. They were also at increased risk for Alzheimer’s.
These results indicate the benefits of keeping blood sugar at healthy levels, experts said.
Prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are elevated but not high enough to be considered diabetic. can be reversed through lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and, in the case of obese people, weight loss.
Stress can also affect blood sugar levels, so relaxation strategies, exercise, and adequate sleep are also important.
There is a lot of support out there for people who want to stick to a healthier lifestyle. The American Diabetes Association has one Diabetes plates method To help people with prediabetes and diabetes eat healthier at every meal.
The organization’s nutrition experts recommend filling half the plate with a non-starchy vegetable such as broccoli or asparagus. A quarter should have a lean protein. The other quarter should have a healthy carbohydrate like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta.
There is also local support. The Philadelphia Diabetes Prevention Collaborative offers lifestyle change programs to help people with prediabetes stop the disease from getting worse. Virtual programs are available.