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Diabetes and the brain

Diabetes and the brain

Apria Editorial |

Diabetes is a complex metabolic disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. While its impact on blood sugar regulation is well-known, its effects on other aspects of health, such as brain function, have gained increasing attention.

The brain is the center of operations for your body, managing every function and task that your nerve cells need to perform. It manages what you think, feel, remember, and even how you sleep.

To do all of this, your brain needs glucose to function, burning up sugar for energy. If your blood sugar level is either too high or too low, it can have a negative impact on your brain and how it works. It’s understood that diabetes can cause damage to the nerves in your other body parts. In the same way, researchers are beginning to understand the impact it has on the nerves and blood vessels in your brain.

Understanding Diabetes' Impact on Brain Function

Diabetes can influence brain function in various ways. Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are detrimental to brain health. Over time, this can damage blood vessels, including those that supply the brain with essential nutrients and oxygen. Moreover, diabetes-related complications such as neuropathy can disrupt the signals between the brain and peripheral nerves, affecting sensory perceptions and coordination.

Brain Fog and Diabetes

One common complaint among individuals with diabetes is the phenomenon known as "brain fog." This term refers to cognitive difficulties such as memory lapses, reduced focus, and overall mental sluggishness. Research suggests that fluctuations in blood sugar levels, a hallmark of diabetes, can contribute to brain fog. When blood sugar levels are consistently high or fluctuate wildly, it can impair proper brain function.

Learn more about how diabetes can impact your mental health.

Negative Effects of Sugar on the Brain

Whether you have diabetes or not, excessive sugar consumption has long been associated with negative side effects, and its impact on the brain is equally concerning. A high-sugar diet can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where cells become less responsive to insulin signals. Since insulin plays a crucial role in brain function and glucose uptake, insulin resistance can impair cognitive processes.

Inflammation and Cognitive Health

Diets rich in sugar and unhealthy fats can trigger chronic low-grade inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. This inflammation has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Over time, chronic inflammation can disrupt neural pathways and impair the brain's ability to transmit and process information efficiently.

Managing Diabetes for Optimal Brain Health

A Balanced Diet

One of the most effective ways to mitigate the adverse effects of diabetes on the brain is through a balanced diet. Focus on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, preventing rapid blood sugar spikes.

Need help with nutrition? Browse our range of diabetic-friendly dietary supplements.

Regular Physical Activity

Exercise not only helps control blood sugar levels but also enhances brain health. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, delivering vital nutrients and oxygen. It also triggers the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which improve mood and cognitive function.

Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels

Consistently monitoring blood sugar levels and working closely with healthcare professionals to maintain optimal ranges is essential. This can help prevent extreme blood sugar fluctuations that contribute to cognitive issues like brain fog.

Shop our range of glucose monitors

Understanding the intricate relationship between diabetes and brain function is crucial for individuals with diabetes and those at risk. Diabetes can lead to cognitive challenges like brain fog, impacting memory and focus. The negative effects of sugar on the brain further underscore the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes balanced nutrition and regular exercise. By taking proactive steps to manage diabetes, individuals can enhance their cognitive well-being and promote brain health.


Can diabetes affect my memory?
Yes. Diabetes has been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the brain and impair cognitive function.

Can I prevent cognitive decline if I have diabetes?
While there is no surefire way to prevent cognitive decline if you have diabetes, managing your diabetes by keeping your blood sugar levels within your target range can help reduce your risk.

How does hyperglycemia affect the brain?
Hyperglycemia is a condition where blood sugar levels are too high. High blood sugar over time damages blood vessels in the brain that carry oxygen-rich blood. When your brain receives too little blood, brain cells can die. This is called brain atrophy and can cause problems with memory and thinking and eventually can lead to vascular dementia.

As a leading supplier of durable and home medical equipment (DME and HME), ApriaHome sources and distributes a wide range of treatment solutions, including assistive respiratory equipment and monitoring solutions.

We're here to support you as you work toward your improved health and well-being. We strive to meet your ever-evolving healthcare requirements with individualized attention and premium quality treatment solutions.

Looking to add diabetic supplies? Browse our premium solutions and let us help you get the most out of every day.

Looking for advice? Our helpful agents are on call at (800) 780-1508 between 8:00 am - 10:00 pm EST daily. Get in touch today.


LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Material in this newsletter is only: (1) provided for general health education and informational purposes, and to provide references to other resources; it may not apply to you as an individual. While Apria believes that the information provided through this communication is accurate and reliable, Apria cannot and does not make any such guarantee. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice, evaluation, diagnosis, services or treatment (collectively, "medical treatment"). Please see your healthcare provider for medical treatment related to you and your specific health condition(s). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Reading this newsletter should not be construed to mean that you have a healthcare provider/patient relationship with Apria.