Preventing and managing diabetes is the key to reducing the risk of dementia, a new study has revealed.

Researchers who looked at the association between prediabetes and dementia found that people who have diabetes at a younger age are at a higher risk of developing dementia later in life.

Prediabetes is a serious health condition that causes blood sugar levels to go higher than normal, although the levels are still not high enough to be categorized as type 2 diabetes. Estimates show that around 96 million adults in the U.S. live with prediabetes.

Prediabetes often progresses without many symptoms. Factors such as obesity, age, lack of physical activity, a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes increase the chances of prediabetes.

Most often, reducing weight and getting exercise can slow the progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.

According to the latest study, those who get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before the age of 60 are at three times more risk of developing dementia when compared to healthy people. The risk for dementia dropped when people got diabetes at older ages.

"Slowing or preventing prediabetes progression to diabetes may be an important way to prevent dementia," said Michael Fang, a co-author of the study. The findings were published in the journal Diabetologia.

Although researchers have not determined how exactly diabetes induces dementia, they believe insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause beta-amyloid and tau buildup in the brain. Abnormal levels of tau are often linked to Alzheimer's and memory loss.

"The buildup of beta-amyloid amyloid and tau may cause the loss of brain cells, which in turn can lead to dementia. It's [been] unclear whether prediabetes is an independent risk factor or if persons with prediabetes are simply at higher risk for diabetes," Fang said. "Our findings support the theory that prediabetes matters for dementia mostly because these patients are at increased risk for diabetes."

The study highlights how preventing and controlling diabetes helps to protect brain health and prevent memory loss.

"Healthy diet, exercise and weight control are the first steps of diabetes prevention and management," explained Yuko Hara, director of prevention and aging at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation in New York City, who reviewed the study.

It is estimated that more than 30 million people live with diabetes in the U.S., out of which around 7.4 million depend on insulin to manage their condition. pixabay