What did President Ronald Reagan and boxer Sugar Ray Robinson have in common? Both had Alzheimer's disease. Sugar Ray also had type 2 diabetes, and President Reagan snacked on sugary jellybeans all day long. Now, research confirms elevated glucose levels, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes lead to Alzheimer's.
That may explain how these two life-altering diseases came to be dance partners in the health-crisis tango that's striding across North America: 23 million people have type 2 diabetes, and 79 million people have pre-diabetes (it's not inevitable, but many of those folks will develop type 2). At the same time, the incidence of Alzheimer's is expected to double by 2050.
This one-two punch of diabetes and Alzheimer's is not something Sugar Ray - or anyone - wants to walk into. But our diabetes-proof, protect-your-brain, four-step plan will keep you healthier, happier and wiser.
1. Maintain a healthy fighting weight with healthy food choices (lots of veggies and fruits, 100 percent whole grains and no added sugars or sugar syrups).
2. Go for 30-plus minutes of exercise five days a week; we love walking 10,000 steps a day.
3. Get friendly with healthy fats. There's the odd-numbered omegas: omega-3 DHAs, omega-7 and omega-9; plus poly- and monounsaturated fats like canola oil. Lose trans and saturated fats in baked goods, meats and full-fat dairy.
4. Reduce stress with meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, fun, safe sex and helping others. Why does this work? Well, stress can kill brain cells and lead to weight gain, which can lead to inflammation, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's!