The Diabetes-Alzheimer’s Disease Link

Brain Buster and Booster

In The Gene Therapy Plan, you’ll find chapters dedicated to diabetes and aging. And although they are discussed separately in the book, health conditions hardly ever exist in isolation. For one, diabetes has been linked to other conditions like obesity, heart disease, cancer, and advanced aging. Data show that memory and cognition may also be affected by diabetes and that the damage may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and it affects over 5 million Americans 65 years or older. The condition is often preceded by mild cognitive impairment (MCI). And as the disease progresses into Alzheimer’s, people with AD will experience increasing deterioration of their cognitive function and behavioral ability — to such a degree that it impairs their ability to carry out simple, everyday activities like getting dressed.

In an animal study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers took a closer look at the link between diabetes and AD. The researchers induced a hyperglycemic state in young mice without beta-amyloid plaques (a proteinaceous plaque found in the brains of AD patients) and found that the plaque increased by 20 percent. When they repeated the experiment, this time using AD mice, the researchers found that the level of plaques doubled (40%).

Dr. Shannon Macauley, a postdoctoral research scholar and one of the lead authors in this study said, “Our results suggest that diabetes, or other conditions that make it hard to control blood sugar levels, can have harmful effects on brain function and exacerbate neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The link we’ve discovered could lead us to future treatment targets that reduce these effects.”

While further studies targeting the pathways and mechanisms involved between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease may take years of research, the good news is we don’t have to wait that long for answers. We can’t deny the deleterious effects that poor glucose control has on overall health. Eating too many simple carbs and sugars are no good for our health. And because our brains main source of energy comes in the form of glucose, the type of sugars we eat has a huge impact on brain health.

So to prevent and treat diabetes, we can take control of what we eat and engage in physical activity to maintain a healthy weight and regulate blood glucose levels. Eat organic, wholesome foods that are nutrient-rich not calorie-poor like chicory, probiotics, brown rice, and organic lean meats. Chicory, for example, contains vanadium, a mineral, that helps to promote insulin sensitivity.

By eating healthful foods that keep us feeling fuller longer and are chock-full of health-promoting nutrients, we ensure that we don’t experience blood sugar spikes that are often associated with processed carbohydrates and refined sugars. 

Photo Credit: Positive thinker/Shutterstock.com

References: 

Macauley, Shannon L., Molly Stanley, Emily E. Caesar, Steven A. Yamada, Marcus E. Raichle, Ronaldo Perez, Thomas E. Mahan, Courtney L. Sutphen, and David M. Holtzman. “Hyperglycemia modulates extracellular amyloid-β concentrations and neuronal activity in vivo.” The Journal of Clinical Investigation

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