A recent research paper has shown that for people with diabetes who incorporate certain healthy lifestyle practices into their lives, they're less likely to develop dementia.
Type 2 diabetics could be at a higher risk for dementia and studies are being conducted to understand how lifestyle factors can modify dementia risk.
The study shows adopting healthy lifestyle habits puts people with type 2 diabetes at a lower risk for dementia.
What is Dementia?
The article starts off with a brief definition of dementia
"Dementia is a broad term for disorders that impact people stability to remember, think, and reason. It typically gets more severe with time and can significantly interfere with people's everyday lives and ability to live independently."
The World Health Organisation defines dementia as follows
"Dementia is a syndrome - usually of a chronic or progressive nature - that leads to deterioration in cognitive function (i.e. the ability to process thought) beyond what might be expected from the usual consequences of biological aging. It affects memory, thinking, orientation, comprehension, calculation, learning capacity, language, and judgement. Consciousness is not affected. The impairment in cognitive function is commonly accompanied, and occasionally preceded, by changes in mood, emotional control, behaviour or motivation."
What are the Risk Factors for Dementia?
Dementia may be a result of variety of diseases or injuries to the brain like Alzheimer's disease or stroke.
Some risk factors for dementia may include unmodifiable factors like age, genetics, injury. However there are other aspects that are lifestyle dependent such as smoking, obesity, alcohol, and even dietary patterns.
The article points out that "Having diabetes is also a risk factor for dementia, particularly type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes can work with their doctors to manage their condition and improve their health. Research is ongoing about how healthy lifestyle changes can improve conditions like diabetes and reduce dementia risk."
Type 2 Diabetes and Dementia Risk
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic lifestyle disease that affects over 77 million adults in India. Researchers predict that this number will increase to 134 million by 2045.
India is the diabetes capital of the world with more and more young adults being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year.
We have known for many years from several research studies that type 2 diabetes increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy, and several other diseases.
Did you know that type two diabetes is also associated with a higher risk of dementia and Alzheimer's?
Several large scale studies conducted over many years have shown that adults with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's. One study show that type 1 diabetics are 93% more likely to develop dementia.
Healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, staying in your healthy weight range, dietary habits, smoking cessation, eliminating alcohol intake, healthy social activities and generally adopting healthy habits and leading healthy lives have beneficial effects in helping diabetic patients.
Individuals with diabetes should make positive lifestyle decisions and ensure that their blood glucose level is stabilized. These healthy lifestyle habits also help manage type 2 diabetes better and may also potentially help reverse it.
The lifestyle medicine approach helps diabetic patients bring their diabetes under control and thereby reduce their risk for a host of other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, Alzheimer's, and several others.
There is strong evidence from clinical studies that dietary interventions specifically following a healthy began diet or whole foods plant based diet goes a long way in potentially reversing diabetes, better weight management, bettering cardiovascular health and improving overall health and wellness.
The Study Findings
In this study, researchers looked at the impact of seven specific lifestyle behaviours on dementia risk. They also looked at whether these behaviors help people with type 2 diabetics and those who don't have type 2 diabetics. They also compared people with diabetes versus those without diabetes making these lifestyle changes.
The healthy habits included:
- Not currently smoking
- Moderate alcohol consumption
- Regular physical activity
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting adequate amounts of sleep
- Less sedentary behaviour
- Having frequent social contact
These lifestyle changes have also shown to help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their condition.
However, further to the lifestyle changes, specifically with diet, a whole food plant based diet has shown to not only help prevent but also treat and potentially reverse type 2 diabetes.
A whole food plan based diet has also been shown to lower risk of dementia, alzheimer's and other brain degenerative diseases.
Researchers utilised the UK biobank in their data collection. The study included people over ages 60 who didn't have dementia when the study started. The study only had people with type 2 diabetes, intentionally not including people with type 1 diabetes.
A score of 7 was assigned by the study, one for each lifestyle factor. They defined what healthy meant for each category. For example someone was classified as being regularly physically active if they had 'at least 150 minutes a week of moderate activities or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activities or an equivalent combination'.
The study had more than 12,000 people who had type 2 diabetes and a total of 1,60,000 participants overall. The study followed participants for an average of 12 years and found that Healthy lifestyle factors were associated with a lower risk of developing dementia. This was even more so for people who were diabetic in the study.
Next Steps - Get Started Today
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, we may be able to help
1. Book an online consultation with Dr. Achyuthan Eswar to understand more about specific lifestyle changes and how you can adopt them
2. Subscribe to our 100% whole food plant based Diabetes meal plan, designed to help prevent and better manage diabetes from the comfort of your home - Bengaluru only
3. Stock up on delicious and diabetic-friendly sweets and snacks that are sugar/jaggery-free, oil-free, maida-free and plant-based - Available Pan-India