The Impacts of Blood Sugar on Cognitive Health
For years, researchers have known that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of kidney and cardiovascular disease, along with eyesight issues. And now, a new study published in June of this year has found that it is also strongly associated with accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline. Considering 1 in 10 Americans have diabetes with 95% of those type 2, this new discovery is causing concern among health advocates and physicians.
What’s more, over the last several years, researchers have discovered that Alzheimer’s disease is actually a type of insulin resistance in your brain, which has been named “type 3 diabetes”. Since those with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing this form of “vascular dementia”, early diagnosis and management of the disease is crucial to avoid brain cell damage and severe cognitive decline. This is where lifestyle and herbal remedies can play an important role, which I will discuss in this post.
Type 2 diabetes develops when the hormone insulin becomes ineffective in allowing the cells to absorb glucose. Up until quite recently, it was rare to see it in those under 45-years-old. Unfortunately, this has shifted and we are now seeing the disease in younger generations. Your risk of type 2 diabetes increases by being overweight or obese, being sedentary, or during pregnancy with gestational diabetes.
Not only can the disease cause heart, kidney, and eye disorders, but a study published in the journal Elife that analyzed data from over 20,000 people in the UK found type 2 diabetes also increases your risk of significant cognitive decline with a 13.1% decrease in executive function and 6.7% lower processing speed beyond typical age-related impairment. Those who had type 2 diabetes the longest were shown to have the most severe cognitive effects and brain atrophy. The team notes that the impacts of type 2 diabetes on cognitive health are due to the decreased availability of glucose in the brain. The study excluded those with type 1 diabetes.1
Similarly, type 3 diabetes is strongly associated with neurocognitive decline, especially with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, Gary Small, MD., professor of psychiatry at UCLA Semel Institute states that there is a strong correlation between type 2 diabetes and developing Alzheimer’s — about double the risk. The mechanism behind this decline in cognitive function is that high blood sugar leads to chronic inflammation in the body and brain.
In the case of Alzheimer’s, chronic inflammation promotes the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, according to Dr. Small. Then there is insulin resistance, which lowers blood flow to the brain and impacts oxygen and nutrient levels. Due to this lower blood circulation to the brain, toxins and waste products accumulate leading to additional brain and cognitive impairment.
Dr. Small also points out that “when circulation to the brain is compromised, you’re more prone to developing small strokes [that can increase the risk of dementia].” Likewise, Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina notes that type 2 diabetes can also compromise the formation and health of new connections made between brain cells.2
How to Naturally Safeguard Brain Health
If this sounds alarming, take heart! The good news is that there are many ways to help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and the subsequent cognitive decline. The key is to improve sugar utilization and minimize insulin resistance. Two of the best ways to do this is to boost circulation by exercising regularly to improve how your body utilizes insulin to lower blood sugar levels, along with eating a healthy, whole foods diet that is high in fiber and low in processed foods/refined sugar. Some spices may also be helpful in lowering inflammation and blood sugar levels, such as cinnamon, turmeric, and oregano.
Next are medicinal herbal extracts. My Brain Bundle contains four powerful tinctures — dual-extracted cordyceps, lion’s mane, and reishi mushrooms, plus lemon balm.
These mushrooms have science-backed properties that lower neuroinflammation, stimulate Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), support cognitive function, enhance memory, limit neuronal cell death, and calm stress.3,4,5,6
Moreover, lemon balm is an exceptional herb for improving memory, mood, and cognition. Because it helps to calm stress and anxiety, lemon balm improves clarity and focus as well. It also inhibits the brain’s levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme that helps break down acetylcholine (Ach), a critical neurotransmitter involved in cognition and memory; reduced levels of acetylcholine have been associated with dementia, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.7
Additionally, my Heart & Blood Sugar Support Bundle is beneficial for regulating blood sugar levels, thereby helping to support brain health. This bundle contains cordyceps, reishi, and turkey tail mushroom tinctures, along with lemon balm.
Give them a try and experience the power of these herbal extracts for yourself. Visit the apothecary to learn more!
Nicole’s Apothecary Products in this Post
Antal, B., McMahon, L. P., Sultan, S. F., Lithen, A., Wexler, D. J., Dickerson, B., Ratai, E. M., & Mujica-Parodi, L. R. (2022). Type 2 diabetes mellitus accelerates brain aging and cognitive decline: Complementary findings from UK Biobank and meta-analyses. eLife, 11, e73138. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.73138
Stacey Colino, “What is Type 3 Diabetes?” UCLA Longevity Center, April 26, 2017. https://www.semel.ucla.edu/longevity/news/what-type-3-diabetes
Bhardwaj, N., Katyal, P., & Sharma, A. K. (2014). Suppression of inflammatory and allergic responses by pharmacologically potent fungus Ganoderma lucidum. Recent patents on inflammation & allergy drug discovery, 8(2), 104–117. https://doi.org/10.2174/1872213×08666140619110657
Ji, D. B., Ye, J., Li, C. L., Wang, Y. H., Zhao, J., & Cai, S. Q. (2009). Antiaging effect of Cordyceps sinensis extract. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 23(1), 116–122. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.2576
Li, X. T., Li, H. C., Li, C. B., Dou, D. Q., & Gao, M. B. (2010). Protective effects on mitochondria and anti-aging activity of polysaccharides from cultivated fruiting bodies of Cordyceps militaris. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 38(6), 1093–1106. https://doi.org/10.1142/S0192415X10008494
Mori, K., Obara, Y., Moriya, T., Inatomi, S., & Nakahata, N. (2011). Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice. Biomedical research (Tokyo, Japan), 32(1), 67–72. https://doi.org/10.2220/biomedres.32.67
Halder, S., Anand, U., Nandy, S., Oleksak, P., Qusti, S., Alshammari, E. M., El-Saber Batiha, G., Koshy, E. P., & Dey, A. (2021). Herbal drugs and natural bioactive products as potential therapeutics: A review on pro-cognitives and brain boosters perspectives. Saudi pharmaceutical journal : SPJ : the official publication of the Saudi Pharmaceutical Society, 29(8), 879–907. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsps.2021.07.003