Denial is a common response to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Tom Hanks had elevated blood sugar numbers when he was 36, but ignored the warning signs and went on to develop full-blown diabetes in 2013, at age 56.
"I was a total idiot," he said.
Let's hope his mental incapacity was reversed once he took control of his condition. For many people with Type 2 diabetes, premature cognition problems are a real threat.
A study published in the journal eLife used MRI scans of around 20,000 people ages 50 and up to compare the brains of those with diabetes to those without it. Those with Type 2 diabetes showed a 26% increase in the speed of brain aging. Their brains were shrinking prematurely.
The results also suggested that by the time diabetes is diagnosed, there may already be structural brain damage and changes in the brain's regulation of glucose by insulin.
What does this mean for the 96 million Americans with prediabetes and the 35 million with Type 2 diabetes? It means that you should protect your brain now:
• Adopt a plant-based diet; ditch highly processed foods, red and processed meats, and added sugars and syrups.
• Get at least 10,000 steps or step equivalents daily. Add speed to your walks if your doctor says it's okay.
• Play dementia-decreasing, speed-of-processing games such as Double Decision or Freeze Frame.
• Monitor your glucose level frequently, and work to keep your A1C at 5.7% or lower.