A new study conducted by researchers at Tel Aviv University found a strong link between insulin resistance and a rapid decline in cognitive performance. According to the study, which was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, individuals with insulin resistance experience an accelerated decline in cognitive function and memory—as opposed to those not affected by the disease.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells in the body fail to respond effectively to the hormone insulin. Such resistance prevents the absorption of glucose (sugar) by the body for fuel, leading to excess sugar in the bloodstream which can cause weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a slew of other health disorders.
As for the study’s results, “These are exciting findings because they may help to identify a group of individuals at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age,” says Prof. Tanne, a joint leader in the study.
For over two decades, Tanne and a team of researchers monitored nearly 500 people who were diagnosed with varying degrees of insulin resistance. While continually tracking their fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels, researchers also assessed their overall cognitive function, including memory, attention span, executive brain function, and visual/spatial processing. The study concluded that individuals with the most stubborn cases of insulin resistance were far more likely to suffer from poor cognitive performance and accelerated cognitive decline as compared to those with a less severe form of the disease. However, per the study, those with a less severe form of the disease were still at risk for cognitive impairment and potential dementia.
“This study lends support for more research to test the cognitive benefits of interventions such as exercise, diet, and medications that improve insulin resistance in order to prevent dementia,” says Tanne. “We know that insulin resistance can be prevented and treated by lifestyle changes and certain insulin-sensitizing drugs. Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance and, as a result, protect your brain as you get older.”
So while you may think that dieting and exercise is good for muscle tone and weight loss only, you may want to take the results of this study into consideration. It’s possible that eating right and getting adequate physical exercise means you are also protecting your brain and warding off Alzheimer or dementia later in life.
If you’re concerned that you may have insulin resistance, Dr. Sass and the skilled medical team at our Smart for Life Healthcare and Weight Loss Center in Boca Raton can test you for the disease. They can also offer you sound dietary advice, perfectly balanced meal replacements, and medication if necessary to help you combat the disease and live a long and healthy life.