Pre-diabetes and the Brain—You’re Losing Brain Cells as Your Read This

Very few patients and providers are aware of just how damaging prediabetes is. Fewer still know that it destroys the brain.

Countless times, after looking at the patient, certain lab values, patient’s history and family history it is clear that this patient is on his or her path to diabetes.  Sometimes at a slow stroll, sometimes at a full-out sprint.  When I bring this concern up to the patient the response is frequently, “Oh…my doctor checked me for diabetes and said I was ok.”  Ugh.

I equate this to the cigarette smoker stating that his or her doctor checked for lung cancer and, since nothing was found, everything is hunky-dory.  In this scenario it sounds ridiculous.

However, prediabetes is arguably more dangerous to your health than cigarette smoking.  There is not a chronic disease that is not in some way increased by prediabetes.  Some, like heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), stroke and many cancers are strongly linked to prediabetes, with being prediabetic almost one of the strongest risk factors.

For those of you wondering if you might just happen to be prediabetic, here’s a short list of things to look for:

  1. Abdominal obesity
  2. PCOS / menstrual problems / infertility
  3. High cholesterol (especially with low HDL, high triglycerides)
  4. Elevated liver enzymes
  5. Gout or elevated uric acid
  6. High blood pressure
  7. Anyone with heart disease or an ischemic stroke (even a TIA)
  8. Family history of diabetes, cancer, heart disease or dementia

While the list is much longer, you get the idea…

Our society has not yet adopted this level of concern with prediabetes and, as a result, few understand the level of danger that he or she is living under.  Given that over 50% of the US population can be classified as being prediabetic, this lack of fear really needs to change.

This particular article is yet another that adds to the long list of damage done to your body by being prediabetic.  In it researchers looked at 127 individuals (aged 41–86 years) and sorted out those who had high insulin resistance (most prediabetic) and those who had low a level of insulin resistance (least prediabetic).  There was a very clear association between damage to the white matter and insulin resistance.  For those neuroanatomy geeks, changes were seen in areas such as the:

  • corpus callosum, corona radiata, cerebral peduncle, posterior thalamic radiation, and right superior longitudinal fasciculus
  • white matter underlying the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes
  • body and genu of corpus callosum
  • parts of the superior and anterior corona radiate

Basically—pretty much every area of the brain was affected by the prediabetic process.  Even more concerning was the fact that the worse the insulin resistance, the greater the white matter damage.

Brain damage from being prediabetic.  Let me repeat that in another way: Over half of the population (and there is a good chance this means YOU) is experiencing brain damage and a loss of healthy brain cells as a result of being prediabetic.

If brain cells are important to you, what changes are YOU making to be less prediabetic?

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.