Jerusalem: Insulin resistance - caused in part by obesity and physical inactivity - may lead to rapid cognitive decline, hampering mental skills and memory, a new
study has warned.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin. The resistance prevents muscle, fat and liver cells from easily absorbing glucose. According to the new research, both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance experienced accelerated cognitive decline in executive function and memory.
Researchers from Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel followed a group of nearly 500 patients with existing cardiovascular disease for more than two decades. They first assessed the patients' baseline insulin resistance using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA), calculated using fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels.
Cognitive functions were assessed with a computerised battery of tests that examined memory, executive function, visual spatial processing, and attention. The follow-up assessments were conducted 15 years after the start of the study, then again five years after that.
The study found that individuals who placed in the top quarter of the HOMA index were at an increased risk for poor cognitive performance and accelerated cognitive decline compared to those in the remaining three-quarters of the HOMA
index. "These are exciting findings because they may help to identify a group of individuals at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age," said David Tanne of TAU.
"We know that insulin resistance can be prevented and treated by lifestyle changes and certain insulin-sensitising drugs. "Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance and, as a result, protect your brain as you get older," Tanne
added.The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.