As a diabetic, or anyone trying to prevent diabetes, one number you should always know and recheck at least every 6 months is your A1c. If you have ever had to care for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or maybe just know someone with it, you have already observed some of the effects of senility, such as memory loss, inability to do simple self-care tasks, and more.
Teaching Certified Nursing Assistants for a number of years, it was my job to give them the skills needed to deal with nursing home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and various other dementias. As part of that training, we watched a very impactful video where the son of an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s participated in a simulation experience, designed by scientists, to help those without dementia understand better what the person with Alzheimer’s is actually experiencing.
In this video, filmed by ABC news (which you can watch right HERE), the son puts on goggles, to simulate the reduced vision many have with cataracts, puts on gloves to simulate reduced sensory abilities, and wears headphones with continuous noise to mimic what many Alzheimer’s patients describe as annoying and constant. Then he is asked to perform simple tasks like sorting laundry or putting a meal together, or setting the table. He finds it much more difficult than expected and emerges from the short experiment with greatly increased empathy for his mother.
You too have probably interacted with elderly friends or family suffering from senility of various kinds and doubtless wondered about the causes of such disorders.
In this article I am going to share 3 ways that have been proven by research to increase the risks of developing senility. As you will see, it’s relatively easy, these habits are practiced by a large number of people, especially in Western countries, and it requires little effort to pull off. So let’s get started…
Your Hemoglobin A1c, often referred to casually as A1c, is a number that reflects your blood sugar averages over the previous 2-3 months. A simple blood test at the laboratory is the best way to know your own A1c number. Many doctors include this lab test in a routine physical.
So how is your A1c related to senility? It’s actually quite simple – You see, senility, even in Alzheimer’s, has been shown to be closely related to the amount of nutrient-carrying, waste-disposing blood that the brain can access through the circulation. About 80% of the glucose (sugar) needed to fuel basic body functions is consumed by the brain. So any variability in available glucose directly affects mental function and the ability of the brain to maintain an optimal state of health. So the key here is quality of blood circulation to the brain.
There are many things that can impact brain circulation. High levels of sugar in the blood make the blood thicker, increase clumping of the red blood cells, and thus slow down the speed at which blood can circulate. This directly decreases the amount of oxygen and glucose available to the brain.
Sugar levels that fluctuate greatly, sometimes too high, and sometimes too low, make the brain’s supply of nutrients irregular. The NIH-funded study (2), reported in the New England Journal of medicine, concluded that “Our results suggest that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementia, even among persons without diabetes.” Many other studies have pointed out the increased risk of dementia among diabetics, as compared to non-diabetics.
Over 2000 participants were in this study and they found that as glucose levels went up, the A1c levels were one way they tracked that, the risk of dementia increased. Several other studies (see references below) also showed strong relationships between blood sugar control and risk of cognitive decline.
Here, then, are the top 3 ways to raise your A1c levels and increase your risk of senility –
- Eat a hearty meal and then sit on the couch.
It is normal for blood sugars to go up after you eat a meal. By eating and then being inactive, you can guarantee that your levels will go as high as possible after each meal. Be careful though, because even if you just do some walking or mild movement, using your large muscle groups in your arms and legs, it will greatly decrease this spike in blood sugar. Moving around, a light stroll of 15-30 minutes is all it takes, uses up glucose stores in these muscles making them hungry for more, and so that uptake of glucose will help to lower blood sugars quite quickly. If you do this after every meal, the impact on your A1c levels can be very significant. In fact, any sitting for more than 20 minutes that is not interrupted by a few minutes of standing or walking begins to impact your metabolism (4). In fact, the impact of aa sedentary lifestyle (the average American sits for 12 hours a day) cannot be overcome by a single moderate to vigorous exercise period once a day. Instead, activity that is inserted frequently throughout the day is much more effective at leveling out blood sugars and preventing chronic diseases.
2. Make sure you snack at least once between each meal.
Every time you introduce more food into the stomach, any simple carbohydrates in that food get absorbed from the stomach directly into the blood stream, quickly raising blood sugar levels. These spikes will raise your average sugar levels and will be reflected in higher A1c levels.
3. Consume some simple, low fiber, refined and/or processed foods at each meal.
These include things like: white flour products (breads, pastas, other baked goods), snacks and desserts made with sugar (cookies, ice cream, candy, soda pop, cake, pies), and foods high in oils (salad dressings, chips, french fries, cheesy pizza, meat). These low fiber and fiber-free foods allow the sugars to be absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream, once again spiking sugars. Refined fats circulating in the blood thicken it, reducing blood flow to the brain, and they increase insulin resistance, making it harder for the glucose in the blood to make its way into the cells, once again keeping blood sugar levels higher for longer.
In the Biblical Diabetes Reversal Model, below, you can see that for the best results, it is important to address the root causes of the problem. This must take into account how our bodies are made, as well as how they function.
I think it is now obvious that if you wish to lower your A1c levels and AVOID dementia, you have these three, powerful ways to do that:
1.Get up from the table and do 15-30 minutes of mild exercise, like walking, immediately when you finish eating.
2. Eat your food at meal times and avoid snacking.
3. Focus your meals on whole, plant-based foods that are high in fiber, complex carbohydrates and are not refined or processed.
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|(1) Wheeler, M. J., Dempsey, P. C., Grace, M. S., Ellis, K. A., Gardiner, P. A., Green, D. J., & Dunstan, D. W. (2017). Sedentary behavior as a risk factor for cognitive decline? A focus on the influence of glycemic control in brain health. Alzheimer’s & dementia (New York, N. Y.), 3(3), 291–300. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trci.2017.04.001|
|(2) Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia, P.K. Crane and others. NEJM https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMx130046?query=recirc_curatedRelated_article|
|(3)Thomas Yates, PhD, Charlotte L Edwardson, PhD, Carlos Celis-Morales, PhD, Stuart J H Biddle, PhD, Danielle Bodicoat, PhD, Melanie J Davies, PhD, Dale Esliger, PhD, Joe Henson, PhD, Aadil Kazi, PhD, Kamesh Khunti, PhD, MD, Naveed Sattar, PhD, Alan J Sinclair, MD, Alex Rowlands, PhD, Latha Velayudhan, DNB (Psychiatry), Francesco Zaccardi, PhD, Jason M R Gill, PhD, Metabolic Effects of Breaking Prolonged Sitting With Standing or Light Walking in Older South Asians and White Europeans: A Randomized Acute Study, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 75, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 139–146, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gly252|
(5) Sitting Time calculator – https://www.juststand.org/the-tools/sitting-time-calculator/
|Sedentary behavior associated with reduced medial temporal lobe thickness in middle-aged and older adults Prabha Siddarth, Alison C. Burggren, Harris A. Eyre, Gary W. Small, David A. Merrill x Published: April 12, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195549 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0195549|