Diabetes has been linked with poor memory for quite some time now due to the reliably declining rates of working memory in patients with diabetes. In fact, dementia has now been named a form of Type 3 Diabetes by many medical professionals. Whether you have Type 1 Diabetes or have recently been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, there are some ways to help protect your working memory for years to come.
Diabetes and Poor Memory
Diabetes and poor cognitive functioning have been well established in the medical community for quite some time. In an effort to find ways to prevent this from happening (or at the very least slow the process down), we need to first take a look at what may cause such a noticeable decline.
In one study by Harvard Medical School, researchers found that patients had a significant decrease in blood flow to the brain, resulting in poorer memory and brain functioning when compared to those without diabetes. Similarly, Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne found that patients with diabetes showed significantly less brain activity during episodes of hypoglycemia, supporting Harvard’s low blood flow finding.
Low blood flow can be a result of many things but is mostly linked to the body’s damaged blood vessels as a result of volatile glucose levels in the blood. Damaged blood vessels can make it difficult to transport blood to and throughout the brain.
In the last few decades, it has become increasingly obvious that grey matter is an incredibly important part of the brain. In fact, it is one of the key parts of a functioning working memory.
In patients with diabetes, there is often a notable decrease in grey matter which results in overall decreased brain functioning. Memory, in particular, is hit pretty hard by this drop. Decreased grey matter means reduced working memory and brain functioning, plain and simple.
9 Ways to Safeguard Your Memory
1. Physical Activity
Walking as a daily activity can increase your brain’s grey matter significantly. Breathing exercises can help increase grey matter as well. Try light yoga where you can sync your movements with your breath, providing your brain the opportunity to increase its grey matter.
2. Give Up Smoking
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advises against smoking as it can harden your already damaged arteries. By giving up smoking, you are supporting healthy blood vessels and therefore improving blood circulation.
3. Glucose Levels
Hypoglycemia can lower grey matter volume in the brain, requiring your brain to work harder to perform simple tasks or recall certain memories. By maintaining glucose levels within normal range, you can help to support healthy grey matter.
4. Learn New Things
Exercising your brain by learning new tasks or information is one way to ensure that your brain increases grey matter rather than decreases it. Showing your brain that there is constantly a need for increases functioning—i.e. with learning—will encourage your brain to maintain its grey matter.
5. Monitor Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Blocked blood vessels and high blood pressure can further prevent blood from reaching critical areas of the body and brain. By keeping your blood pressure under control and cholesterol within a healthy range, you are able to ensure that blood is free to flow to where it is needed.
6. Mindfulness Meditation
When participants practiced mindfulness meditation each day, researchers found that there were increased levels of grey matter in the areas responsible for learning and memory in the brain.
7. Healthy Breakfast
A healthy breakfast with a low glycemic index is linked to increased grey matter in children, according to one study.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can significantly boost grey matter in the brain. Furtheremore, high intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked with improved moods and enhanced memory.
9. Action Video Games
Believe it or not, certain action-type video games help improve grey matter and brain functioning! The required hand-eye coordination and rapid executive functioning helps build grey matter throughout the brain while thickening existing connections between different areas of the brain.
Diabetes is an all-encompassing diagnosis, but simple lifestyle changes can help reduce its overall impact on your daily functioning. Give these recommendations a try and see how your memory and brain functioning improves!
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