Summary: The recommended amount of sleep, daily exercise, a healthy diet, and no alcohol or tobacco use are among seven identified lifestyle changes that people with diabetes should take to reduce their risk of developing dementia.
According to a study published in Neurology.
“Type 2 diabetes is a global epidemic, affecting one in ten adults, and diabetes increases the risk of developing dementia,” said study author Yingli Lu, MD, PhD at Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in China. .
“We examined whether a broad combination of healthy lifestyle habits could offset this risk of dementia and found that people with diabetes who introduced the seven healthy lifestyle habits into their lives had a lower risk of dementia than people with diabetes who did not live a healthy life.”
For the study, researchers searched the UK healthcare database and identified 167,946 people 60 years or older with and without diabetes who had no dementia at the start of the study. Participants completed health questionnaires, took physical measurements, and donated blood samples.
For each participant, the researchers calculated a healthy lifestyle score from zero to seven, with one point for each of the seven healthy habits.
Habits included no current smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, up to one drink a day for women and up to two a day for men, regular weekly physical activity of at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, and seven to nine hours of sleep a day.
Another factor was a healthy diet with more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish, and less refined grains, processed and unprocessed meats.
The most recent habits were: a less sedentary lifestyle, that is, watching TV for less than four hours a day, and frequent social contacts, defined as living with others, meeting friends or family at least once a month, and participating in social activities at at least once a week or more.
Researchers followed the participants for an average of 12 years. During this time, 4,351 people developed dementia. In total, 4% of people used only zero to two healthy habits, 11% took three, 22% for four, 30% for five, 24% for six, and 9% for all seven.
People with diabetes who followed two or fewer of the seven healthy habits were four times more likely to develop dementia than people without diabetes who followed all seven healthy habits. People with diabetes who followed all habits were 74% more likely to develop dementia than those without diabetes who followed all habits.
For people with diabetes who followed all habits, there were 21 cases of dementia for 7,474 person years, or 0.28%. Person-years represent both the number of people in the study and the amount of time each person spends in the study.
For people with diabetes who followed only two or fewer habits, there were 72 cases of dementia in 10,380 person years, or 0.69%. Adjusted for factors such as age, education, and ethnicity, people who followed all habits had a 54% lower risk of dementia than those who followed two or less.
Every additional healthy habit people followed was associated with an 11% reduced risk of dementia. The relationship between healthy lifestyle outcome and dementia risk was not influenced by the medications they were taking or by how well they controlled their blood sugar levels.
“Our research shows that people with type 2 diabetes can significantly reduce their risk of dementia by leading a healthier lifestyle,” said Lu.
“Doctors and other healthcare professionals who treat people with diabetes should consider recommending lifestyle changes for their patients. Such changes can not only improve overall health, but also contribute to the prevention or delayed onset of dementia in people with diabetes. ‘
A limitation of the study was that people reported their lifestyle habits and perhaps did not remember all the details exactly. Lifestyle changes over time have not been captured either.
Financing: The study was funded by the National Foundation of Life Sciences of China, Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital of the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, and other sponsors.
About this news from diabetes and dementia research
Author: Natalia Konrad
Contact: Natalie Conrad – HE
Image: The image is in the public domain
Original research: The results will appear in: Neurology