Question: I heard Alzheimer’s is related to diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, why should I be concerned?
Answer: The same diet that increases the risk of type 2 diabetes also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. This means you need to avoid sugars and processed carbs now to protect your brain health into old age.
A sugary, high-carb diet significantly increases the risk of Alzheimer’s
People with diabetes have a 65 percent higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s because of the damaging effects of high blood sugar and insulin on the brain. The link between high blood sugar and brain degeneration is so well established that some researchers refer to Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes.”
How does a sugary, starchy diet damage the brain and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s?
The pancreas releases insulin to lower high blood sugar caused by consuming sweets, starchy foods (pasta, potatoes, rice, corn, breads, pastries, etc.) sodas, juice, and sweet coffee drinks.
If you indulge in these foods regularly your body will overproduce insulin in its battle against chronically high blood sugar. This eventually leads to insulin resistance — when the body’s cells refuse entry to insulin. In time insulin production can become exhausted and diminish.
For many people, insulin resistance eventually becomes type 2 diabetes, when the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar breaks down.
The effect of insulin on the brain
Insulin does more than regulate blood sugar in the body. The brain depends on appropriate levels of insulin to sustain mental energy, regulate inflammation in the brain (inflammation destroys brain tissue), and produce brain chemicals that regulate mood.
Low insulin and insulin resistance also promote beta-amyloid plaques and the tangling of tau proteins, the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms of blood sugar and insulin imbalances that raise the risk of Alzheimer’s
- Feel sleepy after meals
- Don’t feel rested after sufficient sleep
- Excess belly fat
- Men growing breasts and hips and crying more easily*
- Hair loss, excess facial hair, and deepening of voice in women*
- Poor focus and concentration
- Worsening memory
- Mental sluggishness
- Sleep problems
- Brain fog
- Lack of motivation
- Depression and/or anxiety
*Insulin resistance causes hormonal imbalances so that men and women take on characteristics of the opposite sex.
Don’t wait until you have dementia or Alzheimer’s to correct your diet!
The good news is insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are often reversible by changing your diet and lifestyle. However, you cannot grow back atrophied brain tissue, so start sooner rather than later. The degeneration that causes dementia happens slowly over years or decades, although it isn’t noticeable until the later stages.
For more information on improving your diet and blood sugar to prevent dementia, contact my office.
Dr. David B. Tuchinsky, D.C., PLLC
St. Augustine Functional Medicine Practitioner, Speaker and Author
Direct any questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org