A new study by the University of Waterloo is one of the first to associate type 2 diabetes to control of emotions, behaviors and thoughts. The paper was published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine and represents a comprehensive summary of available studies that examine the link between type 2 diabetes and reduction of executive function
There are approximately 600 million people affected by type 2 diabetes world wide illustrating the global health concern associated with the disease. Researchers reviewed 60 studies comparing 9,815 individuals with type 2 diabetes to 69,254 controls without it and examined their performance on measures of executive function.
The specific executive function involved inhibit thinking patterns, knee-jerk emotional reaction and reflexive behavior.
“This facet of brain function is particularly important because we rely on it when we are attempting to behave in a way that is contrary to our natural inclinations or what the environment impels us to do,” said Corrie Vincent, a graduate student in the School of Public Health and Health Systems at Waterloo, and lead author on the study.
“The types of behaviors that are recommended to help individuals control type 2 diabetes are all things that do not come naturally to most people. Human beings have fairly reliable preferences for high-calorie foods and to resist medical routines that are inconvenient or time-consuming,” said Professor Peter Hall, of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Waterloo, and senior author on the study.
The researchers propose a variety of recommendations to assist individuals with type 2 diabetes in managing their disease, including exercise and active dietary monitoring. Regular exercise and staying active has been shown to strengthen the area of the brain responsible for self control.
“Fortunately, there are a few things that can help optimize the brain structures that support executive function,” said Professor Hall. “Aerobic exercise and cognitively challenging activities — such as learning new things, solving difficult puzzles and other problem solving activities —all help to keep your brain sharp. Aerobic exercise is probably the most important, however, because it has benefits to both the brain and the rest of the body simultaneously.”