Is Alzheimer's Just Type-3 Diabetes?
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most incapacitating illnesses known to humankind. The disease starves the human brain, mutilated vital cognitive cells, and for decades, it has been represented as an untreatable, genetically determined disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the condition is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, by 2050, 14 million Americans will have it, and every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops the disease .
Though this disease is generally regarded as genetic or hereditary, more research shown it has a powerful connection to another condition – diabetes. This has caused health scientists and researchers to ask the question: “Is Alzheimer’s disease just type-3 diabetes?”
We know that their resistance to insulin characterizes type-1 and type-2 diabetes, with both having different properties. Type-1 individuals cannot produce insulin, and type-2 individuals have deteriorated insulin receptors, associated with overconsumption of refined carbohydrates like processed grains and sugar. Yet, a 2005 publication entitled “Is Alzheimer's really just type III diabetes?” proposed a new puzzle.
In the study, researchers revealed a previously unknown correlation between insulin and brain cell deterioration, which lead to breakthroughs around Alzheimer’s prevention .
Now, we have reason to believe the illness is associated with insulin resistance, meaning there is a possibility of having successful treatment options even though the disease is considered untreatable.
Further, a study published in the journal, Neurology found that diabetic patients are twice as likely to experience dementia . Brain cells can become insulin-resistant just like any other type cell in the body, and while scientists used not to understand why there was an aggregation of beta-amyloid plaques in the Alzheimer’s brain, now it is apparent insulin resistance impairs cognition and is implicated in the formation of those plaques .
There is already an established link between Alzheimer’s and type-2 diabetes because Alzheimer’s may be triggered by insulin resistance in the brain . If type-2 diabetes is left untreated, the disease can cause damage to the blood vessels in the brain, and since many people with type-2 diabetes do not know they have the condition, they are at a higher risk of enduring this damage .
Also, because of the destruction to the blood vessels in the brain, there can be improper blood flow which can result in a chemical imbalance, which may lead to Alzheimer’s, and high blood sugar causes inflammation, which can further damage the brain. This especially happens when this demographic has a diet high in carbohydrates, which break down into sugar in the body, causing blood sugar levels to increase spontaneously and more inflammation. Over time, this repeated phenomenon causes previously healthy brain cells to die quicker and have a shorter lifespan .
So, type-2 diabetes is considered a risk factor for vascular dementia. On its own, vascular dementia can be a disease with symptoms, or it can be a warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease. This is the link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Type-3 Diabetes
According to a 2016 study, people who have type-2 diabetes are 60% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia . Remember, Alzheimer’s is just a type of dementia.
The same 2016 study found that women with type-2 diabetes had a higher probability of developing vascular dementia than men .
Risk factors for type-2 diabetes include the following: a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, being overweight or obese, chronic health maladies, such as depression.
The symptoms of type-3 diabetes are very similar to the early signs of dementia or early Alzheimer’s, such as the following: memory loss that influences daily living and social communications, difficulty completing ordinary tasks, losing things often, diminished ability to make decisions based on information, or abrupt changes in character or demeanor .
Treatment for Type-3 Diabetes
While there is the modern medicine route for the treatment of type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, lifestyle changes, such as diet and fitness, should be the cornerstone of the procedure. Remember, there have been decades of life choices that contributed to the development of the disease, and a pill once a day, no matter how strong it is, is not going to reverse those decisions completely. For example, the Mayo Clinic reported that losing 5-7% of body mass can help stop organ damage caused by high blood sugar.
How to Decrease One’s Risk for Developing Type-3 Diabetes
There are also natural techniques you can do to decrease your risk for the disease.
Coconut oil has been shown to have anti-aging properties because of the high levels of medium-chain triglycerides it has.
A 2006 study published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging found that administering MCTs to patients with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment resulted in significant increases in ketone bodies within 90 minutes of administration. Increases in ketone bodies it closely associated with measurable cognitive improvement in those with cognitive dysfunction .
A healthy diet may seem like a given, but it is paramount in the reduction of one’s chance in developing this disease. The nutrition plan given to those seeking type-2 diabetes prevention is very similar to the program offered to those who are looking to decrease their risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Overall, a diet that is low in sugar and high in healthy fat – think nuts and avocados – helps to create a healthy, healing environment for the brain. Even small increments of healthy fats have been shown to support brain health and function .
Healthy carbs mean healthy carbs, not no carbs. The dangerous carbohydrates like sugar and processed grains lead to deteriorated blood vessels, decreased inflammation, and increased circulation. However, healthy carbs like fruits and vegetables – except for a few high-sugar fruits – can promote cell growth, have anti-inflammatory properties, and be less acidic, while helping to prevent type-3 diabetes. Foods such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, kale, spinach, avocados, and other dark fruits and vegetables are densely packed with vitamins and minerals that support peak cognitive function .
An antioxidant-rich diet has also been shown to be beneficial for optimizing brain function. In 2012, researchers found a strong correlation between decreased levels of the antioxidants – vitamin C and beta-carotene – in patients with dementia . Supplementation of these antioxidants, such as supplemental vitamin E and vitamin C, would also play a beneficial role in conjunction with a healthy diet. Foods such as lemons, grapefruits, kale, and bell peppers could help protect from neurodegenerative diseases because of their high levels of these antioxidants.
With the research that is being currently conducted, there seems to be a strong correlation between insulin resistance and increased blood sugar levels to Alzheimer’s disease, dubbing Alzheimer’s disease as type-3 diabetes. While this characterization has not been officially implemented, the research seems to be very indicative and supporting. In general, a healthy diet and lifestyle seem to be the best supporters of cognitive function. If you are unsure whether a specific lifestyle choice is conducive to brain function, it presumably isn’t.
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If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned in this article, please feel free to call our office at 800.726.1834.