The pancreas, a large organ located behind the stomach, creates the hormone insulin, which allows glucose to move from the blood stream into our cells. Diabetes, in its various forms, occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. The glucose will pass out of the body along with other waste products, unable to provide vital energy for the body.
Diabetes has been linked to memory loss, as the brain like other organs in the body consumes glucose for energy. The brain consumes about 20% of energy used by the body. When the brain does not receive enough energy, it slowly loses cognitive function. Many individuals diagnosed with diabetes may or may not have other health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, depression, stress, stroke, an underactive thyroid, or others which may cause or exacerbate memory loss and which can be deeply affected by diabetes. These can cause long-term changes in brain function and development.
Research studies have been conducted regarding the effects of weight loss as a limiting factor in long-term damage to the brain.
The Look AHEAD program, a multi-site study, followed thousands of participants, diagnosed with diabetes or obesity, for more than a decade. Some participants received standard diabetes education management and counseling, while others also participated in intensive counseling that included diet and exercise support.
While the Look AHEAD study has concluded with similar cognitive results among the two groups, participants still reduced overall glucose levels that are toxic to the brain. Researchers did not use the intense lifestyle interventions to track changes in other factors (depression, medication use, sleep apnea, etc.) that could lead to better diabetes control.
The WISE Program is currently investigating the effects of bariatric surgery on brain function with obese and diabetic patients. Again, two groups will participate in the study, one group electing to have the surgery, and the other not.
Weight loss in general has been found to help provide energy to the body, and therefore the brain. Those diagnosed with diabetes have the extra challenge of providing energy to the body and the brain which greatly affects their lifestyle choices. Acute awareness of best practices to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind will help diabetic individuals continue to live a long and memorable life.
Metabolic Medical Center can help you manage your diabetes, reduce your weight, and help reduce memory loss.