Tag Archives: diabetes

Higher Blood Sugar Levels Once Again Linked to Dementia

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Let’s work on getting those blood sugars down, honey.”

On the heels of a report finding no association between Alzheimer’s disease and abnormal blood sugar metabolism, MedPageToday features an new study linking high blood sugars to future development of dementia. And diabetics with sugar levels higher than other diabetics were more prone to develop dementia.

Some of you have already noted that not all cases of dementia are Alzheimer’s dementia. But Alzheimer’s accounts for a solid majority of dementia cases.

Some quotes from MedPageToday:

During a median follow-up of 6.8 years, 524 participants [of the 2000 total] developed dementia, consisting of 74 with diabetes and 450 without. Patients without diabetes and who developed dementia had significantly higher average glucose levels in the 5 years before diagnosis of dementia (P=0.01). The difference translated into a hazard ratio of 1.18 (95% CI 1.04-1.33).

Among the patients with diabetes, glucose levels averaged 190 mg/dL in those who developed dementia versus 160 mg/dL in those who did not. The difference represented a 40% increase in the hazard for dementia (HR 1.40, 95% CI 1.12-1.76).

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Crane PK et al. “Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia” N Engl J Med 2013; 369: 540-548.

Reminder: Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes is now available on Kindle.

Alzheimer’s Disease NOT Related to Abnormal Blood Sugar Metabolism….This Week Anyway

MRI scan of brain

MRI scan of brain

Several studies over the last few years have pointed to a positive association between Alzheimer’s dementia and abnormal glucose metabolism, such as diabetes, elevated blood sugars, and insulin resistance.

A new study finds no such linkage. See JAMA Neurology for details. The study at hand even included autopsy results. We don’t see that very often these days.

MedPageToday has a write-up also.

When I see multiple conflicting reports on a clinical issue over a number of years, it makes me think the reported association is weak or nonexistent.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Metabolic Syndrome: A Thumbnail Sketch

metabolic syndrome, low-carb diet, diabetes, prediabetes

He’s at high risk for metabolic syndrome

“Metabolic syndrome” may be a new term for you. It’s a collection of clinical features that are associated with increased future risk of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerotic complications such as heart attack and stroke. One in six Americans has metabolic syndrome. Diagnosis requires at least three of the following five conditions:

  • high blood pressure (130/85 or higher, or using a high blood pressure medication)
  • low HDL cholesterol:  under 40 mg/dl (1.03 mmol/l) in a man, under 50 mg/dl (1.28 mmol/l) in a women (or either sex taking a cholesterol-lowering drug)
  • triglycerides over 150 mg/dl (1.70 mmol/l) (or taking a cholesterol-lowering drug)
  • abdominal fat:  waist circumference 40 inches (102 cm) or greater in a man, 35 inches (89 cm) or greater in a woman
  • fasting blood glucose over 100 mg/dl (5.55 mmol/l)

What To Do About It

Metabolic syndrome and simple excess weight often involve impaired carbohydrate metabolism. Over time, excessive carbohydrate consumption can turn overweight and metabolic syndrome into prediabetes, then type 2 diabetes.  Carbohydrate restriction directly addresses impaired carbohydrate metabolism naturally. When my patients have metabolic syndrome, some of my recommendations are:

  • weight loss, often via a low-carb diet (but most any reasonable diet may also work)
  • carbohydrate-restricted diet if blood sugars or triglycerides are elevated
  • regular exercise, a combination of strength and aerobic training

If these are effective, the patient can often avoid costly drugs and their potential adverse effects.

Ask your doctor what she thinks.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Is mTORC1 Modulation the Key To Diseases of Civilization?

Was Hippocrates the dude that said something about “make food your medicine”?

Bodo Melnik has an article in DermatoEndocrinology regarding the dietary causes of acne.  He also comments on the role of Western foods in obesity, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and neurodegenerative disorders.  These are our old friends, the “diseases of civilization.”  Melnik mentions the Paleolithic diet favorably.

Melnik says it’s all tied in with mTORC1: mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1.

A snippet:

These new insights into Western diet-mediated mTORC1-hyperactivity provide a rational basis for dietary intervention in acne by attenuating mTORC1 signaling by reducing (1) total energy intake, (2) hyperglycemic carbohydrates, (3) insulinotropic dairy proteins and (4) leucine-rich meat and dairy proteins. The necessary dietary changes are opposed to the evolution of industrialized food and fast food distribution of Westernized countries. An attenuation of mTORC1 signaling is only possible by increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruit, the major components of vegan or Paleolithic diets. The dermatologist bears a tremendous responsibility for his young acne patients who should be advised to modify their dietary habits in order to reduce activating stimuli of mTORC1, not only to improve acne but to prevent the harmful and expensive march to other mTORC1-related chronic diseases later in life.

You sciencey types can read the rest.  Our new friend mTOR also seems to be involved with growth of muscle induced by resistance exercise.

h/t Mangan

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Linked To Higher Rate of Diabetes and Heart Disease

…details are at MedPageToday. Insulin resistance is tied in somehow. PCOS affects five or 10% of women.

High Normal Blood Sugar Levels Linked To Brain Degeneration

MRI scan of brain

MRI scan of brain

Our bodies keep blood sugar levels in a fairly narrow range.  You might think you’re fine if you’re anywhere within the defined normal range.  Think again.  Australian researchers found that folks with fasting blood sugars toward the upper end of the normal range had more degeneration (atrophy) in parts of the brain called the hippocampus and amygdala, compared to those in the low normal range.  Degeneration in those areas is often manifested as dementia.

The hippocampus is critical for learning and memory formation and retention.  The amygdala is also involved in memory as well as emotion.  The two areas are intimately connected, literally.

How Was the Study Done?

Over 250 study participants aged 60 to 64 years had normal brains at baseline and were free of diabetes and prediabetes.  They were overwhelmingly caucasian.  MRI brain scans were done at baseline and again four years later.  Significant atrophy (shrinkage) was seen in the hippocampus and amygdala over time, with greater atrophy seen in those with higher baseline fasting glucose levels.

Fasting blood sugar was measured only once, at the start, and ranged from 58 to 108 mg/dl (3.2 to 6.0 mmol/l).  (Fasting glucose of 108 would be prediabetes according to the American Diabetes Association, but not by the World Health Organization.)  Participants weren’t tested for deterioration of cognition.

So What?

The results of the study at hand are consistent with others that link higher rates of dementia with diabetes.  Diabetics, even when under treatment, usually have higher average blood sugars than non-diabetics.  The study authors speculate that damage from higher blood sugars may be mediated by inflammation and abnormal blood clotting (prothrombotic factors and platelet activation).

The Mayo Clinic recently reported that diets high in carbohydrates and sugar increase the odds of developing cognitive impairment in the elderly years.

It’s interesting to contemplate whether non-diabetics and diabetics would have less risk of developing dementia if blood sugars could be kept in the lower end of the normal range.  How could you do that?  Possibilities include:

  • avoid sugars and other refined carbohydrates
  • limit all carbohydrates
  • favor low-glycemic-index foods over high
  • regular exercise, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity (insulin is a major blood sugar regulator)
  • avoid overweight and obesity, which helps maintain insulin sensitivity
  • for diabetics: all of the above plus drugs that control blood sugar

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Cherbuin, Nicolas, et al.  Higher normal fasting plasma glucose is associated with hippocampal atrophy: The PATH Study.  Neurology, September 4, 2012, vol. 79, No. 10, pp: 1,010-1,026.  doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826846de

Dietitians Weigh In On Mediterranean Diet for Diabetes

An eating pattern similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet can be integrated with existing national guidelines for the management of diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Existing data suggest that the Mediterranean diet has health benefits, including improved glycemic control and reduced cardiovascular risk, and may offer benefits to diabetes patients and clinicians alike in terms of palatability, ease of explanation and use, and promotion of improved health.

Olive oil and vinegar

Olive oil and vinegar

This excerpt is from an article by three dietitians writing in Diabetes Spectrum in 2009.  Click through for details if interested.

—Steve

Reference:  doi: 10.2337/diaspect.24.1.36 Diabetes Spectrum January 1, 2011 vol. 24 no. 1 36-40