iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Oz Garcia

GET UPDATES FROM Oz Garcia
 

Does Diabetes Increase Risk of Alzheimer's?

Posted: 10/08/11 09:46 AM ET

Recently, "Time" featured online a top headline that read "Diabetes Doubles Alzheimer's Risk." I deal with a lot of clients who have diabetes, and I am always looking at new studies and the best ways to advise them in their healthy endeavors. More and more people are being diagnosed with Alzheimer's -- a frustrating and discouraging condition -- and people should understand that the way we treat our bodies matters in more ways than we might realize.

There is a direct relationship between high blood sugar and oxidative stress; so individuals with diabetes must make careful, well thought out decisions about the food they put into their bodies. Some believe that a diet high in carbohydrates, especially fructose, combined with a deficiency of necessary fats and cholesterol, has lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. This type of diet, when low in fats, can result in a spike of post-meal blood sugar levels.

These high blood sugar levels can eventually lead to a process called glycation, which leads to aging by damaging cells. This process can also cause inflammation. Eventually the process ends in the development of advanced glycation end-products, which are very often present in the brains of those with Alzheimer's.

That's the technical part. I want people who have diabetes, and people who do not, to understand the keys to reducing their risk.

Number one in reducing this risk is practicing proper, healthy eating habits. Saturated fats should be avoided, while good fats, such as avocado, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts should be implemented. Sugary, fried and fast foods are always a no. While some meat can be good, limit the amount of grilled and charred meats; they are exposed to high temperatures and can egg on the glycation process. Decrease the amount of white foods from your diet, and concentrate on complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains and brown rice.

I am a huge proponent of nutritional supplements. I think the body can benefit by using antioxidants to combat the free radical damage and oxidative stress that have been acquired day after day, over many years. I believe in taking a complete multivitamin each day, along with Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl L- Carnitine, Resveratrol, Omega-3 and Co Q-10. Speak with your medical practitioner to determine if this would be right for you, and what the correct dosage would be.

Finally, I will never underestimate the power of exercise. Working a continued moderate exercise routine into your life not only keeps you healthy and young, but actively reduces the amount of blood sugar in your body and increases blood circulation throughout the body. Healthy blood circulation flowing to the brain is thought to be helpful in reducing the risk of Alzheimer's.

A healthy lifestyle can protect you from so many preventable conditions. I can't stress enough the importance of living well, not only just to prevent Alzheimer's onset, but to truly live a better, longer and more enjoyable life.

 

Follow Oz Garcia on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ozgarcia