You are likely familiar with both type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that destroys the insulin-secreting pancreas, and type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not use insulin properly. However, you may not have heard of type 3 diabetes being referred to as Alzheimer’s disease, which has been capturing everyone’s attention. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease linked to insulin resistance, which is the hallmark of type 2 diabetes in the brain.
What Is Type 3 Diabetes?
Often referred to as Alzheimer’s disease, Type 3 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance in the brain. The term is commonly used for individuals diagnosed with both type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s or dementia. In Type 3 diabetes, the brain’s neurons encounter difficulty responding to insulin, a crucial factor for fundamental tasks, including memory and learning.
A set of common biochemical and metabolic features observed in the brain in Alzheimer’s disease and other tissues in diabetes. Therefore, it may be considered a “brain-specific type of diabetes.” It has been recognized since at least 2005 that some features of brain function in Alzheimer’s disease resemble those underlying diabetes.
Insulin resistance, common in diabetes, disrupts insulin signaling which causes the accumulation of harmful substances and causes neurodegeneration. Type 3 diabetes, is driven by hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. Impaired insulin signaling in the hippocampus harms memory and cognition.
Statistics of Type 3 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s
People with type 2 diabetes may be up to 60 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s or dementia. A study involving over 100,000 subjects with dementia highlighted that women with type 2 diabetes had a higher likelihood of developing vascular dementia than men.
The Connection Between Alzheimer’s and Diabetes
People with diabetes face a 65% higher risk of Alzheimer’s. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells, producing high blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes results from insulin becoming less effective at removing glucose, causing it to accumulate.
Studies show that Alzheimer’s (type 3 diabetes) shares similarities with diabetes in the brain, and affects brain function and structure. Cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s is linked to a preceding decline in glucose processing, and worsening brain insulin function.
Many elderly have diabetes (11.3% of the US population) and Alzheimer’s (5.7 million Americans). Type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to a 60% higher risk of Alzheimer’s. Managing diabetes is crucial for overall brain health in aging populations.
Causes of Type 3 Diabetes/Alzheimer’s
Research indicates that individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes face an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia later in life. It is believed that issues with blood sugar control may contribute to memory and cognitive impairments. Unhealthy lifestyles, characterized by factors such as lack of exercise, poor diet, and insufficient sleep, are likely to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
1. Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance, where cells struggle to utilize insulin effectively, hampers the fuel supply to cells, resulting in inadequate energy for optimal brain function. This resistance leads to elevated blood sugar levels, causing harmful fatty deposits in blood vessels over time.
Additionally, excessive insulin can disrupt the delicate chemical balance in the brain, impairing neurotransmitter function and further exacerbating the negative impact on overall health.
2. Inflammation and Blood Vessel Damage
Diabetes heightens the risk of heart attack or stroke, with elevated blood sugar levels triggering inflammation that adversely affects blood vessels. This inflammation can contribute to Alzheimer’s risk by damaging vessels in the brain.
The interplay between inflammation and insulin resistance is notable, as inflammation can induce cell resistance. The situation is further compounded by obesity, exacerbating insulin resistance through its association with inflammation.
3. Blocked Nerve Communication
Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with increased production of beta-amyloid protein pieces, potentially leading to the clumping of these fragments. These clumps can become lodged between nerve cells in the brain, disrupting the normal flow of signals. The accumulation of these clumps contributes to impaired communication between nerve cells, a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Tangled Tau Protein
Within cells, supplies are transported along pathways resembling railroad tracks, with the tau protein maintaining the straight alignment of these tracks. In Alzheimer’s, the tau protein becomes tangled, disrupting the tracks and causing them to disintegrate. This breakdown hinders the transport of essential substances, leading to cellular dysfunction.
Studies indicate that individuals with diabetes exhibit increased levels of tangled tau in their brains. The accumulation of tangled tau could potentially lead to more cell death, contributing to the progression of dementia.
Risk Factors of Type 3 Diabetes/Alzheimer’s
The main risk factor for developing type 3 diabetes is having type 2 diabetes. Additional risk factors include:
- A family history of diabetes or metabolic syndrome
- Age over 45
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Excess body weight or obesity
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Low physical activity
- A diet high in calories, sugars, and fats and low in fiber
- Ethnicity and race
Symptoms of Type 3 Diabetes/Alzheimer’s
The symptoms of type 3 diabetes coincide with those of dementia, particularly in early Alzheimer’s disease.
- Memory loss affects social interactions and daily living
- Lack of judgment or decreased ability to make judgments based on information
- Difficulty recognizing family and friends
- Disorganized thoughts
- Problems with reading, writing, and numbers
- Difficulty in completing familiar tasks
- Misplacing things often
- Lack of impulse control
- Sudden changes in personality or demeanor
- Agitation or anxiety
- Confusion about location or time
- Mislaying things
- Withdrawal from social activities or work
Prevention of Type 3 Diabetes/Alzheimer’s
Preventing Alzheimer’s in diabetic patients lacks clear evidence, but a recommended approach involves four pillars:
- Physical and Mental Exercise
- Prayer and Meditation
- Psychological Well-being
Adopt a Mediterranean-style diet with fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and seafood. This can reduce Alzheimer’s risk by decreasing amyloid-beta plaques between nerve cells in the brain.
Physical and Mental Exercise
Regular aerobic exercise and strength training boost blood flow and stimulate neurogenesis. Mental activities like reading, puzzles, and creative pursuits like painting support cognitive function.
Meditation and Deep Stretching
Practice meditation and deep stretching exercises to reduce stress, a significant factor in Alzheimer’s. A brief daily meditation session can lower stress levels and improve blood flow to crucial memory-related areas in the brain. Deep stretching also benefits cognitive stability.
Promote psychological well-being through self-acceptance, confidence, personal growth, socialization, and independence. Factors like having a purpose in life and cultivating positive emotions like love and kindness, help decrease stress and maintain healthy cognition.
Best Supplements for Type 3 Diabetes/Alzheimer’s Prevention
Flavonol-rich superfoods, antioxidants, ginkgo biloba and vitamin E are evidence-based solutions that can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
- Flavonol-rich superfoods, such as kale, tea, berries, and olive oil, have significantly reduced Alzheimer’s risk. In a study involving over 900 adults, those with the highest flavonol intake had a remarkable 48% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those with the most insufficient intake.
- Antioxidants in preventing Alzheimer’s are supported by a 2002 study focusing on vitamins C and E. Foods like citrus fruits, kiwi, nuts, and egg yolk, rich in these antioxidants, were found to be associated with a lower Alzheimer’s risk.
- Ginkgo Biloba supplementation seems to effectively reduce the cognitive difficulties typically linked with Alzheimer’s disease. This natural supplement appears to bring about a marked improvement in cognitive function associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Comparison of Types of Diabetes
There are distinct differences between type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s disease) and types 1 and 2 diabetes, as Alzheimer’s disease is recognized as a separate and independent condition.
The following table compares diabetes types 1, 2, and 3.
|Type 1 diabetes
|Type 2 diabetes
|Type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s disease)
|What is happening?
|The body attacks the cells of the pancreas, causing them to lose their ability to produce insulin.
|The body does not use insulin efficiently or cannot produce enough to meet demand.
|The body experiences impaired insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling, oxidative stress and inflammation.
|Risk factors and causes
|Scientists do not know what causes type 1 diabetes, but genes or viruses may be involved.
|Being overweight, obese, and physical inactivity may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
|Poor eating habits, obesity, type 2 diabetes, inactivity, genetics, ethnicity, and high blood pressure are all potential risk factors.
|Management involves insulin medications, such as metformin.
|Medication, diet, and exercise may benefit persons with type 2 diabetes.
|Management of Alzheimer’s disease involves treatment and support. People can control their blood sugar by diet and lifestyle.
|Treatment and prevention
|There may be no cure, but medication can help manage the condition. Studies on prevention are ongoing.
|Type 2 diabetes can be treated and prevented by lifestyle and dietary modifications.
|Medical treatment of Alzheimer’s disease involves medication, although they say there is no cure. Physical activity, a nutritious diet, and maintaining a moderate body weight can all assist to prevent insulin resistance.
Alzheimer’s disease, often referred to as Type 3 Diabetes, involves insulin resistance, a reversible condition in which both the body and the brain struggle to use glucose as a source of energy efficiently. This impairment is typically linked to poor diet and lifestyle choices.
Preventive measures for Type 3 diabetes involve a holistic approach, including dietary changes, physical and mental exercise, meditation, and psychological well-being. Evidence-based supplements and herbs, such as flavonol-rich superfoods, antioxidants, and Ginkgo Biloba, offer potential avenues for reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s.