There is a strong connection between your heart and your brain. Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to your brain. Any factor that reduces the amount of oxygen to your brain will impact your brain’s ability to function properly.
Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular risk. It is a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries. The plaque restricts the flow of blood to your brain and other organs in your body. Restricted flow of blood (and other nutrients) means less oxygen getting to your brain. Over time the risk of your brain shrinking increases. People with significant brain shrinkage have:
● 58 percent increase in risk of death from all causes
● 69 percent increase in risk of vascular death
● 96 percent increase in risk of stroke
These numbers are in comparison to a similar person (of the same age) without brain shrinkage. High levels of homocysteine correlate highly with cardiovascular disease. High levels of homocysteine are also seen in people with brain shrinkage. Stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s victims have smaller brains compared to the norm.
People with very low levels of vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin) sometimes have symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that there are significant differences (up to 500 percent) in the size (volume) of brains with high levels of vitamin B12 compared to brains with low levels of vitamin B12.
Diabetes affects your brain in several ways. One is shrinkage. Diabetic retinopathy can result in blindness. High sugar levels create havoc with the central nervous system. It can result in brain atrophy (shrinkage) and/or neurodegeneration. Brains of diabetics and non-diabetics have been compared. The average brain size of diabetics was smaller – about 3 percent reduction in the whole brain volume. This increases the risk of cognitive impairment. Most of the time brain shrinkage is inside out – not whole brain volume.
Researchers believe that diabetes also causes conditions similar to Alzheimer’s. Diabetes causes some proteins to be misfolded. These misfolded proteins (commonly seen in Alzheimer’s) cause:
● Defective insulin release
● Defective insulin signaling
● Impaired glucose uptake
● Increased oxidative stress
● Stimulation of brain cell death by apoptosis
● Blood vessel abnormalities
● Mitochondrial energy production problems