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  • Writer's pictureDr. Romi Fung, ND

Cognoscopy: HbA1c

There is evidence in at least the early stages of dementia that cognitive decline is driven by metabolic processes (Bredesen, 2014). Diabetes is associated with the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (Campbell, Stephenson, de Courten, Chapman, Bellman, & Aromataris, 2018). The authors observed that “people with diagnosed diabetes had a 73% increased risk of developing dementia and a 56% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease compared to the general population.” In fact, de la Monte & Wands (2008) had coined Alzheimer’s Disease, “Type 3 Diabetes” as the evidence shows that Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus causes brain insulin resistance and cognitive impairment through disturbances in acetylcholine homeostasis and insulin-like growth factor signaling.

The mechanism behind the association between diabetes and dementia likely involves the involvement of chronic low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress, vascular damage, increased cerebral amyloid-beta peptides, hyperinsulinemia, brain insulin resistance and production of advanced glycation end-products.

Testing for your HbA1c looks into how chronically elevated your blood sugar levels are. HbA1c measures the percentage of red blood cells that are ‘glycated’ or have a sugar molecule irreversibly attached to them. As red blood cells have a lifespan of about 90-120 days, this measurement gives us approximately a 3-month average of your blood sugar levels.

Once we know your HbA1c, we work with the diet. Understanding glycemic load can be an initial start in your care. Ensuring that patients reduce simple carbohydrates in their diet and opt to consuming more complex, whole carbohydrates can prevent glucose spikes and dips, and eventual insulin resistance.

Is this included in your routine testing? Book a 15-minute Meet and Greet and let’s talk and see how I can help you with your brain health!

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