Diet, Diabetes and Dementia

Researchers think Alzheimer’s may be a type of diabetes that effects the brain. I read an article in Readers Digest recently that said some scientists have even begun referring to Alzheimer’s as “Type 3 Diabetes.” In a nutshell, here’s what I understood from the article:

A diet that is consistently high in sugar and fat overstimulates insulin production. With so much insulin always floating around in the bloodstream, the body becomes less sensitive to it. As a result, the body requires more insulin to get the same amount of work done. This sets off a downward spiral which eventually overwhelms the insulin-producing organs to the point where they just can’t keep up, and you end up with an insulin deficiency.

Insulin is best known for controlling blood sugar levels, but that isn’t its only job. It’s also involved in brain signaling (sending information/instructions throughout the body), creation of new neural pathways (learning, understanding and remembering) and the general survival and function of the brain.

Researchers suspect that in some people, the downward spiral of insulin overload and insensitivity impairs the brain’s ability to think and form memories. Long term, if untreated, this can cause permanent neural damage. Possibly dementia. Or, as they’re calling it now, Type 3 Diabetes.

Apparently, research on this is still rather new, and scientists say insulin deficiency may be just “one of many” triggers of dementia. However, tests are being done to see if existing drugs for diabetes can improve dementia symptoms.

This information seems more useful for prevention than for a cure, but there is the possibility that in the early stages of dementia, dietary changes could slow the degenerative process. In any case, here’s yet another reason for us to clean up our diets.

. . . Although, I’m absolutely certain that homemade chocolate chip cookies are always good for you, regardless of sugar or fat content!

* The article I read in the February 2013 Readers Digest  was written by Bijal Trivedi and was called “Can You Eat Your Way to Dementia?” It first appeared in New Scientist, September 2012.

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