Is Alzheimer's Caused By Diabetes?
When diabetes is not controlled, too much sugar remains in the blood. Over time, this can damage organs, including the brain. Scientists are finding more evidence that could link Type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer's disease, the most common cause of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and fatal brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may have changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions. But the latest research shows it is the sugars in unhealthy and processed foods that is the culprit that takes the lives of so many. Alzheimer's disease is the seventh leading cause of death in the US.
An estimated 54 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, or blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range. Most of these people will develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years. High blood sugar may also be a sign of insulin resistance. In this disorder, the body becomes unresponsive to insulin, a hormone that helps blood sugar move into cells and fuel vital processes. At first, the body makes more insulin to get the energy it needs. Eventually, the body is making all the insulin it can. If cells grow more insulin resistant, blood sugar will rise higher, and diabetes will develop. While anyone can get diabetes, it tends to run in families and to affect certain ethnic groups more than others. Hispanic Americans are at greater risk for developing diabetes than other racial or ethnic groups: Hispanic Americans are at very high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. The risk for developing diabetes over their lifetimes is higher for Hispanics than for any other ethnic group. Hispanics are almost twice as likely to develop diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. Diabetes rates more than double in Hispanics who are obese. Of those born in 2000, diabetes will affect half of all Hispanic females; four in 10 Hispanics and one in three African-Americans overall.
From 1985 to 2019, 1,710 cases of diabetes and 639 cases of dementia were recorded. For every 1,000 people, examined yearly, the rates of dementia were 8.9 in those without diabetes at age 70. Comparable rates of dementia for those with diabetes were 10.0 for those with onset up to five years earlier, 13.0 for six to 10 years earlier, and 18.3 for more than 10 years earlier. Results clearly show that the earlier you develop diabetes, the greater your risk is for developing dementia. There are multiple reasons why years of type 2 diabetes may lead to dementia. One reason is related to the effects that diabetes has on the heart, as heart health is related to brain health. Heart disease and elevated blood pressure are both associated with strokes that, in turn, can lead to dementia. However, strokes do not appear to be the complete answer, as some studies found that diabetes led to an increased risk of dementia even when strokes were controlled for.
Another factor relates to the episodes of hypoglycemia that commonly occur in diabetes. Although tight control of blood sugars has been proven to reduce the long-term risks of heart disease and strokes, tight control can also lead to hypoglycemia, memory loss, and dementia. Here, the reason is likely because low blood sugars are known to damage the hippocampus — the memory center of the brain.One of the more intriguing hypotheses is that diabetes directly causes Alzheimer’s disease. Indeed, Alzheimer’s disease has even been called "type 3 diabetes" because of shared molecular and cellular features among diabetes and Alzheimer’s. For example, insulin plays a critical role in the formation of amyloid plaques, and insulin is also involved in the phosphorylation of tau, which leads to neurofibrillary tangles. In other words, sugars in the brain crystalize and destroy neurons, also whereas insulin resistance in the body can lead to type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance in the brain can lead to the plaques and tangles of Alzheimer’s disease.Because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, turmeric supplements may help with blood sugar management in people with type 2 diabetes. (You can also rest assured that turmeric is low-carb, so adding it to your plate or supplements regimen won't throw your blood sugar levels out of whack.)