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Diabetes in midlife could lead to cognitive problems later in life, study shows

By Antonia: (NaturalNews) Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have discovered that middle-aged people who did not properly manage their blood sugar levels were almost 20 percent more likely to have cognitive issues later in their life than middle-aged people with normal blood sugar levels.(1)

The study, titled "Diabetes in Midlife and Cognitive Change Over 20 Years: A Cohort Study," spanned 25 years, assessing data that examined the blood sugar levels as well as the cognitive, memory and reasoning abilities of over 13,000 Caucasian and Afican-Amerian adults aged 48 - 67.

All were initially screened for pre-diabetes and diabetes symptoms and were examined during the course of the decades-long study. The results found that those who had elevated blood sugar levels in mid-life were more prone to cognitive problems in their later years. For example, the researchers discovered that people in their 50s who had high blood sugar levels were more likely to experience mental decline approximately 20 years later, when they were in their 70s.(1)

Annals of Internal Medicine, which recently published the study notes:

Diabetes in midlife was associated with a 19% greater cognitive decline over 20 years compared with no diabetes. ... Participants with poorly controlled diabetes had greater decline than those whose diabetes was controlled. Longer-duration diabetes was also associated with greater late-life cognitive decline. Rates of decline did not differ significantly between white and black persons.(2)

The importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle starting at a young age

"The lesson is that to have a healthy brain when you're 70, you need to eat right and exercise when you're 50," said Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, study leader and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "There is a substantial cognitive decline associated with diabetes, pre-diabetes and poor glucose control in people with diabetes. And we know how to prevent or delay the diabetes associated with this decline."(3)

Selvin explains that the findings demonstrate what many people already know but don't necessarily always abide by: that a healthy lifestyle is important -- even at a young age -- in order to maintain good health as they become older. She maintains that a proper diet, exercise and weight management are key factors in helping to prevent diabetes, saying that even just a 5 to 10 percent reduction in body weight plays a role in diabetes prevention. "If we can do a better job at preventing diabetes and controlling diabetes, we can prevent the progression to dementia for many people," she said.(3)

Foods to eat to keep blood sugar in check and boost brain health

To help prevent diabetes, or to keep blood sugar levels in check in general, it's advised to avoid simple carbs such as refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup. Ideally, consumption of healthy, fresh foods is essential. Lentils, kidney beans and black-eyed peas have been linked to maintaining blood sugar levels. Leafy greens and fruits such as apples, which are rich in soluble fiber, are also recommended.

Other foods that keep blood sugar levels in check are ground flaxseeds, almonds and cashews.

Interestingly, the majority of these foods are also listed on the Alzheimer's Association's website as ones to eat for better brain health; they too suggest a diet that includes leafy greens such as kale and spinach and eating nuts like almonds, pecans and walnuts.(4)

Sources: (1) http://guardianlv.com (2) http://annals.org (3) http://www.newswise.com (4) http://www.alz.org Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/049691_diabetes_cognitive_decline_blood_sugar...