The connection between high blood sugar and Alzheimer’s dementia is so strong, that some researchers have now begun to refer to Alzheimer’s as “Type III diabetes.” If diabetes is not well controlled, excess sugar remains in the blood stream. However, this extra sugar does not just affect the blood; internal organs, including the brain, all feel the strain of uncontrolled blood sugar.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive brain disease that destroys an individual’s memory, the ability to learn and make decisions, even communicate and perform daily activities. As the disease gradually progresses, the individual may experience changes in behavior and personality, increased anxiety or agitation, even delusions.
Nearly 5.5 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is fatal, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S.
The reduced levels of insulin in a diabetic’s brain can directly stimulate cognitive decline and the potential development of Alzheimer’s. A diabetic’s insulin resistance prevents effective flow of glucose for brain cells to use as fuel. Damage to blood vessels in the brain, along with the inflammation caused by high blood sugar, can also encourage the development of Alzheimer’s.
If you push all of the medical jargon aside, it comes down to this – in order to prevent Alzheimer’s, diabetics must control their blood sugar and overcome insulin resistance. Controlling your sugar levels will have a huge impact on decreasing your Alzheimer’s risk. When blood sugar is regulated there will be more insulin available for the brain to use, more fuel for the brain cells, and less inflammation in the blood vessels and brain tissue.
The key to overcoming insulin resistance and healing diabetes is through a diet that eliminates simple carbohydrates and sugars, while focusing on fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, and appropriate portions of protein.
You may have heard this manner of eating referred to as a “Mediterranean Diet.” New research has found that individuals who followed a Mediterranean-inspired diet lowered their risk of Alzheimer’s dementia by one third!
According to lead study author Claire McEvoy, of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine, “Eating a healthy plant-based diet is associated with better cognitive function and around 30% to 35% lower risk of cognitive impairment during aging.” Incredible, isn’t it!
Diabetics can reap a huge benefit from this way of eating. Pause for a moment and consider; high carb foods are often high in refined sugars as well. As you reduce the amount of carbs you eat, you are reducing the amount of sugar you are taking in. This in turn lowers insulin and blood sugar levels naturally.
The Ketogenic Diet has many of the same foundations as a Mediterranean-style diet, putting the emphasis on vegetables fruits, healthy fats, and protein while eliminating sugar and processed foods. The foods prohibited by the Keto diet include: bread, crackers, bagels, cookies, pastries, etc. Processed foods found in boxes and plastic bags are out. Basically, foods made with white flour and sugar are off limits.
Linda Barnes, Ph.D., associate professor at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago, confirms more exercise, better eating habits, and smoking cessation as lifestyle changes one can impart to lower one’s risk of Alzheimer’s or improve one’s outcome after diagnosis.
Everyone has lapses in memory now and again. Can’t remember where you parked your car, or where you left your keys? Brief moments of forgetfulness are not likely to be a sign of Alzheimer’s, but as we age, we must keep tabs on our cognition.
Linda Barnes goes on to explain that by maintaining an awareness of your thinking and memory skills, you can better document any decline. She also recommends speaking with close family or friends and asking them to monitor any changes in your cognition; they may notice something you don’t.
Also be sure to speak with your physician regarding your risk for diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Ask about additional ways to protect your brain and your body. Working with your healthcare team is essential in achieving and maintaining great health.
For diabetics especially, Alzheimer’s needs to be a topic of discussion. Laura Ekblad, lead researcher at the University of Turku in Finland makes it clear, “Whatever your current blood sugar level, taking control of it now may mean the difference between a future with our without Alzheimer’s.”