Sunday, June 26, 2022 |
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Some writers have suggested that diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are the same condition.
There is no doubt, as research has definitely shown, that if you have Type 2 diabetes you are already on the path to Alzheimer’s disease. The good news is Type 2 is a lifestyle disease, one that is avoidable through good nutrition, exercise and thoughtful living.
The link between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes is this. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the liver, muscle and fat cells stop responding effectively to insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that tells the cells of your body to absorb glucose (sugar) from the blood and thereby lowers blood glucose and allows the liver and muscles to use glucose for energy or to be stored as fat for use later.
The illness is caused by consuming too many foods that are sugary, or high in fat and sugar, so that in essence you desensitize the receptor sites on the muscle and liver cells by the constant bombardment of sugar.
This insulin resistance leads to the obvious obesity that we see everywhere, but also to memory loss and confusion, since your brain can’t get the glucose it needs out of the blood, and many other functions of the body are compromised by the high levels of sugar that stay trapped in the blood.
Research at Brown University showed that the hippocampus in the brain — the part involved in learning and memory — can also become insensitive to insulin in those people with Type 2 diabetes, and therefore lead to dementia.
Animal research has shown that when animals are fed high-fat, high-sugar diets that they form the insoluble plaques of beta-amyloid in their brains — a protein that is synonymous with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 27 percent of Americans over 65 years of age have diabetes and about 50 percent have pre-diabetes. The American Diabetes Association states that numerous studies have demonstrated that those with diabetes have lower cognitive function and are a great risk for dementia.
Not only do people with diabetes form the beta-amyloid protein plaques and tangles in their brains which interferes with the insulin receptors in the hippocampus, but the brain exclusively uses glucose for energy, and when the receptors are blocked, and desensitized, the vital nutrient does not reach the brain and allow for clear thinking and recall.
A study in 2007, appearing in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, found that the strongest factor associated with good cognitive function was the lack of diabetes. This study showed that elderly women without diabetes are approximately twice as likely to have good cognitive function as those who have the disease.
Other factors that influence enhanced thinking ability are being a non-smoker and also having normal blood pressure. In February of 2009, a study in Diabetes Care found that those with diabetes and high hemoglobin A1C also had lower levels of cognitive ability.
Given that the number of people in the U.S. diagnosed with diabetes is approximately 382 million and the cost for Alzheimer’s disease is currently $130 billion per year, clearly the association between these two diseases needs further exploration. As Type 2 diabetes can be effectively treated and prevented by eating sensibly, exercising, watching blood sugar levels, avoiding obesity and generally living a healthy lifestyle, we have the power to avoid two devastating diseases. The first line of defense is your fork!
If you need help setting up a nutritional plan call me, and I’ll work with you to get you on the path.
• Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.
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