brain shrinkage

  1. Diabetes causes brain atrophy

    The disease that can shrink your brain

    Bigger may not always be better. But when it comes to your brain, you want to keep it as big as possible.

    A smaller brain is a brain in decline -- and while all our brains shrink a little with age, faster brain atrophy rate is a sure sign of cognitive decline and even dementia.

    But there's one step you can take today to slow or stop that shrink, and it's not a "do" so much as a "don't."

    Don't get diabetes!

    In addition to all the obvious reasons to avoid the disease -- including a higher risk of heart attack and an early death -- new research finds that diabetes can speed the rate of brain atrophy.

    In fact, the damage seen in the brains of diabetics looks remarkably like what we see in the brains of dementia patients, according to the study of brain scans of more than 700 patients, including both diabetics and non-diabetics.

    Diabetics even do worse on cognitive tests, proving again that faster brain atrophy means faster decline.

    And this isn't the first study to find a link between diabetes and dementia.

    We know, for example, that diabetes alone is a major risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Even slight jumps in blood sugar levels -- levels not high enough to be considered diabetes -- can cause brain atrophy.

    And as I told you recently, those same bumps in blood sugar can increase your risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

    That's why it's critical to get your blood sugar levels under control and keep them that way -- so if you don't have diabetes, work on your diet to make sure you never get it.

    And if you already have the disease, it's not too late. The same changes that could've helped you to avoid diabetes in the first place can help you to keep the disease under control and even reverse the damage now.

    But if you already have the disease, there's a chance your brain is already shrinking -- so don't wait.

    Get started today.

  2. The brain-saving benefits of exercise

    The key to beating dementia

    Like every other part of your body, the brain needs a steady supply of blood and oxygen -- and exercise is one of the best ways to give it plenty of both.

    Now, a new study shows of the benefits of exercise how all that blood-pumping exercise can lead to some very real physical benefits inside the brain itself -- including a slower rate of brain shrink.

    The study of more than 600 people tracked for three years starting at the age of 70 found that the ones who got the highest levels of activity had the slowest rate of that shrink.

    Now, all our brains lose a little something as we get older, so you can expect even a normal brain to shrink at least a little bit over the years. But the more you lose, the more likely you'll find yourself battling dementia -- and that's why slowing that shrink is absolutely critical.

    And along with brains that shrink less, the seniors who got the most movement and the most benefits of exercise also had less damage in the white matter of the brain. Think of that white matter as the wiring that keeps the communication lines in the brain open. When the lines go down, you've got problems.

    It doesn't take much to get the benefits of exercise. The seniors who got the most movement in the new study weren't exactly training for the Iron Man competition. In many cases, they were simply walking more.

    One more note: The study didn't find any benefit at all for mental and social stimulation. But I've seen plenty of other research that has -- so along with a brisk walk, give your mind a workout.

    Anything from a crossword puzzle to bingo night could help. Walk to your bingo night, and you could kill two birds with one stone.

  3. The key vitamins that will protect your brain

    Some brains, however, shrink faster than others -- and since this rapid loss of gray matter is often a warning sign of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, you want to limit your own shrinkage as much as possible. And the best way to do that is with the vitamins you should be getting anyway.
  4. How 'B' can beat dementia

    There may "B" an answer to Alzheimer's after all--and it might even be something you're taking right now. Researchers have found that high levels of three common B vitamins can dramatically slash the brain shrinkage associated with dementia and related conditions.

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