DIABETES PUTS YOU AT RISK FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
AND OTHER BRAIN CONDITIONS
Most of us don’t think much about our brains: we count on it to do the thinking for us. But new research is helping us understand more about the effects diabetes might have on your brain.
Your Brain And Diabetes
Like many other cells in your body, brain cells use glucose for fuel. Because your brain is always working, even when you sleep, it needs a large amount of fuel for energy. In fact, your brain uses about twice as much glucose as any other organ in your body. The glucose comes from the food you eat and is carried to your brain through the blood stream.
You may have noticed that when your blood glucose is either above or below your target, you cannot think very clearly. You may feel slow or groggy, you may not be able to think of a word, or you may become confused. Keeping a steady source of the right amount of glucose is key to keeping your brain working correctly. Poor blood glucose levels are linked to poor thinking, learning and memory. Age also plays a role: an older brain needs more glucose than a younger one to do the same tasks.
While glucose is a big part of the story, insulin is also very important for brain function, especially learning and memory. Like other cells in your body, brain cells need insulin to help absorb glucose. Insulin also keeps the blood vessels that supply the brain healthy — and can help prevent a build-up of harmful proteins in the brain.
Low insulin levels in the brain mean reduced function. Just like other cells in your body, your brain cells can become insulin resistant. When insulin cannot do its job in your brain, learning and memory may be affected. Over time, proteins can build up and lead to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.