13 Jun Alzheimer’s Disease as Type 3 Diabetes-
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative conditioned characterized (1) primarily by memory loss and impaired cognition. It is a progressive disease that worsens with age and is the most common cause of dementia.
This disease affects as many as 5.5 million (2) Americans ages 65 plus and is expected to increase significantly as current population trends continue and people are living longer. Currently, age is the most notable risk factor, but emerging research links a high-salt, high-sugar diet to the development of AD.
What is Type 3 Diabetes?
Type 3 Diabetes is a term used when neurons in the brain are unable to respond to insulin. Insulin is essential for basic tasks including memory and learning capabilities. Insulin resistance (3) and deficiency contributes to cognitive decline (4) and has the potential to trigger Alzheimer’s Disease. This is usually to describe people who have Type 2 Diabetes and are also diagnosed with dementia or AD.
What is the cause?
The underlying cause still remains unknown despite extensive and continuous research.
What we do know is that it occurs when there is a loss of connection between neurons in the brain. This can be due to many reasons, but research has shown that aging and metabolic conditions such as obesity and diabetes are among the strongest contributors known, since resistance to insulin (5) is a key factor in the progression of AD.
APOE4 (4), a variant of the Alzheimer’s gene- APOE, is a major culprit. APOE is responsible for interrupting how the brain processes insulin. APOE4 in its protein form, aggressively binds and blocks insulin receptors on the surfaces of neurons, creating toxic clumps and lasting damage to brain cells. These clumps, once inside the neuron are trapped and inhibit the receptors from functioning normally causing impaired and starved brain cells.
Additionally, two abnormal structures, plaques and tangles (6) are at fault for damaging and killing nerve cells in the brain by building up in and between nerve cells in the brain.
Furthermore, too much sugar in the brain has also been found to be an underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The over consumption of sugar and not enough fat leads to diabesity (7) causing brain inflammation, cellular stress and insulin resistance in the hippocampus (8), the area associated with memory and cognitive behaviour.
Who is at risk?
Just because you may be young does not mean that you are not at risk, since dementia begins developing when you are younger taking decades to develop and worsen over time.
Approximately 200,000 Americans (6) under the age of 65 have early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Those suffering from obesity or Type 2 diabetes are at a greater risk to developing AD due to insulin resistance or high insulin levels. It has been estimated that one out of every two diabetics will develop Alzheimer’s disease (9).
A study on mice (8), found that a high-fat, high-sugar diet renders the aging brain more vulnerable.
Obesity, specifically central, has also been inked to cognitive decline (10). This central obesity accounting for belly fat, or visceral fat (11), produces hormones and chemicals that promote inflammation and insulin resistance which harms the brain. People who are centrally obese have a risk that is at least doubled (12) than those without excess belly fat.
How can you reduce your risk of AD?
Since those with Type 2 Diabetes are at higher risk of developing AD, it is imperative to follow a proper diet. This diet should replace sugar, refined carbs, dairy, and other inflammatory foods with “brain healthy foods” that are rich in omega-3 and healthy fats like avocados, cashews, and coconut oil (13). Special attention should be given to control insulin and balance your blood sugar levels. This can be done through a whole-foods, low- glycemic diet (7).This will not only aid in the prevention and even potentially reversal of cognitive decline but will also boost mood, focus, and energy level whilst preventing age related brain diseases. Be sure to check on your body chemistry as well, avoiding high levels of mercury or other heavy metals, optimizing cholesterol, and lowering homocysteine levels from folic acid deficiency, all which are associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Supplement with a daily multivitamin and mineral including B6, B12, D3, folate, and a probiotic to improve the relationship between your brain and gut. Daily exercise (14), proper sleep (15), and stress control are also imperative in optimizing brain function and preventing cognitive decline.
It is important to recognize that the mind and body are not two separate systems but one continuous ecosystem. What you eat today affects not just your body and but your brain as well and will have a lasting impact for years to come. So, do the foods you eat prevent or assist in creating an environment that Alzheimer’s Disease can thrive in?
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