Alzheimer’s & insulin resistance: how to prevent both
For years, no one could explain Alzheimer’s disease. It didn’t seem to bear a link to other problems. There was no relationship to location or environment. Certain families might suffer from increased prevalence—but there was little rhyme or reason to who or when it struck.
Then in 2005 came the eureka moment. A study out of Brown Medical School was published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that found Alzheimer’s was linked to insulin resistance and diabetes, which is why the medical world has started calling it “type 3 diabetes.”
Unfortunately, there’s still no cure for Alzheimer’s. However, this research has shown that in many cases, Alzheimer’s appears to be a problem of nutrition, not genetics. Understanding the connection between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s is paramount to knowing how to prevent the disease.
How Insulin Resistance Plays a Role
With type 2 diabetes, the bloodstream gets flooded by too much glucose. Eating sugars or simple carbohydrates, which are quickly broken down into sugar, causes your body to release insulin into your blood.
That insulin tells your cells to grab glucose and convert it into energy.
But your cells can only process so much glucose at once – they eventually fill up. Whatever glucose they can’t use at the moment stays in your bloodstream. At that point, the body converts the glucose into glycogen and builds up glycogen reserves—they work like a fast-acting energy pill, ready to be tapped whenever you need it.
But you can only store so much glucose as glycogen too. So, after you’ve filled up that silo, excess glucose is turned into dangerous triglycerides.
Yet, in type 2 diabetes, as we keep consuming carbohydrates and sugars anyway, the triglycerides build up, and it takes more and more insulin to convert sugar to energy. Eventually your cells ignore insulin altogether. In full-blown type 2 diabetes, it’s very difficult to deliver energy to cells, because they no longer listen to the signal of insulin.
That is what’s known as insulin resistance, and it’s a major problem in America today.
Why does all this matter?
Starting with the 2005 study mentioned earlier, and in many others since, we’ve seen that the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients are themselves insulin-resistant. Their brains stop taking in enough glucose, and without that energy, they stop functioning properly.
Simply put, in great quantities, sugar and carbohydrates are poisons. And, over time, that poison spreads to your brain.
Get Your Blood Sugar In Check
One thing you must do—if you haven’t already—is get tested to see if you’re at risk of becoming diabetic or pre-diabetic. Ask your doctor to check your blood sugar and A1c levels.
If your tests show that you’re at risk, you need to reduce how much sugar and carbohydrates you eat. Because cutting back on carbs and sugar not only helps reverse your pre-diabetes and diabetes risk, it leads to clearer thinking, as your brain cells make more efficient use of glucose.
Nutrients to Support Brain Health
Moreover, it’s critical to feed your brain the nutrients it needs to function at its peak—so that it can ultimately prevent and fight off disease. The time to start thinking about Alzheimer’s prevention is now. Degeneration often begins years before signs and symptoms start appearing.
There are many supplements that protect and nurture the brain, but these are some of the most important:
- Curcumin. The ultimate natural anti-inflammatory, curcumin has been shown to decrease risk of Alzheimer’s by interfering with the pathway that leads to plaques and tangles in the brain—both hallmark signs of the disease.1 I recommend 500 mg daily in a highly absorbable form, like Curcumin EX Plus.
- Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid in the membranes of all cells, but it’s especially abundant in brain and nerve cells. Your body makes phosphatidylserine on its own to maintain healthy cell function, but supplementation can improve memory and mental decline associated with aging.2
- Omega-3 fatty acids provide anti-inflammatory benefits to the brain, and one study found them to have a “protective role in mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and the risk and progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly.”3 You can find the ideal brain-healthy ratio of the omega-3s, EPA and DHA, in Omega-D3 with Astaxanthin.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin. Both carotenoids that are highly concentrated in the retina, lutein and zeaxanthin are best known for their roles in eye health. But they are just as important for the brain, which makes sense considering how closely connected the retina and brain are. In a study of 44 older adults, one year of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation appeared to “buffer cognitive decline” on verbal learning tests. The nutrients also enhanced blood flow to areas of the brain involved in cognitive function.4 You can find these two important antioxidants in most good supplement stores. Or you can find them both, in LifeMax Multivitamin, along with the legendary herbal adaptogen, ashwagandha, a proprietary antioxidant blend called Spectra™ and more than 100% RDA of 18 critical vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Finally, don’t discount the importance of exercise for both Alzheimer’s and diabetes/insulin resistance prevention. We already know the benefits of exercise for weight loss and blood sugar normalization, but one meta-analysis also found that regular physical activity reduced the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by a whopping 45 percent!5