This Common Health Problem May Also Wreck Your Memory​

Good news is, you have the chance to fix it

Suzannah Weiss |

Want to keep your brain young? To do so, we first need to find out what ages it in the first place. And a new study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has identified one previously overlooked factor: insulin resistance.

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Insulin-resistant people have trouble absorbing glucose, or blood sugar. So it builds up in their bloodstream, which increases their risk for pre-diabetes and diabetes.

The researchers measured the insulin resistance of 489 coronary heart disease patients by calculating the insulin and glucose levels in their blood from 1990 to 1997. Then, they assessed different aspects of their mental functioning using several computer tests from 2004 to 2008 and 2011 to 2013.

Related: Here’s How You Can Calculate Your Diabetes Risk At Home

Patients in the highest quartile for insulin resistance had the worst cognitive performance, whether or not they were diabetic. They also had poorer memory, executive function (the ability to perform tasks requiring conscious, deliberate thought), and quicker mental decline.

Sounds scary, but the good news is that if insulin resistance contributes to dementia and other age-related neurological problems, treating it can help keep our minds sharp as we age, said lead author David Tanne, a professor at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine, in a press release.

Related: Eat 3 Servings Of This a Week to Cut Your Diabetes Risk By 35%

Since inactivity and obesity fuel insulin resistance, the best ways to counter it are regular exercise, a healthy diet, and if necessary, using insulin-sensitizing drugs. In fact, researchers say that diabetes is not always chronic—here’s how to reverse it.

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