Is Alzheimer's Actually Type 3 Diabetes?

Posted by Ashley Griffin on June 25, 2014

Is Alzheimer's Actually Type 3 Diabetes?

By Hilary Young and Ashley Griffin

You have probably met someone in your lifetime who has Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, but have you ever met someone who has Type 3 diabetes?  A new study from Alpert Medical School at Brown University thinks that you have.

Researcher Dr. Suzanne de la Monte found that insulin resistance in the brain is linked to Alzheimer's Disease and suggests that this might be a new form of diabetes.

The Study

In a study with lab rats, de la Monte and her colleagues found that blocking insulin's path to the brain resulted in Alzheimer's-like neurodegeneration in the rats.  They used a drug to block the insulin that was similar to nitrates found in popular American food products like hot dogs, deli-style turkey slices and sausages.  de la Monte and her team believe that a diet high in fats and processed foods are more likely to cause neurodegeneration that leads to Alzheimer's Disease.

The evidence, wrote de la Monte, suggests that Alzheimer's "is a metabolic disease with virtually all of the features of diabetes mellitus, but largely confined to the brain."

Insulin

So what's the deal with insulin, anyway?  It seems to be the main factor in determining whether or not your body is going to develop some form of diabetes.  Here's what you need to know:

Type 1 diabetes destroys the beta cells located inside the pancreas. The result is that the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children and young adults.  They are required to keep a watchful eye on their blood sugar levels and administer insulin shots daily.

Type 2 diabetes allows a person’s body to still produce insulin, but the human body has an abnormal response.  Type 2 diabetes was typically associated with old age, but is more commonly being found in young children and is connected to obesity.  Often times, a change in diet and exercise can help to manage Type 2 diabetes but oral medication and injectables are also an option for insulin regulation.

Type 3 diabetes was a phrase coined by de la Monte during her research.  It has been proven to be a connection to Alzheimer’s disease. The resistance of insulin to the brain is directly related to a person's development of dementia. de la Monte and her team found that those with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by greater than 60 percent. 

The Solution

So how can you keep Type 2 and 3 diabetes at bay?  Here is what the experts suggest:

  • Avoid hyper-processed foods like cold cuts, hot dogs and sausages
  • Cut down on your intake of sugary soft drinks and junk food
  • Cook more, eat fast food less
  • Exercise regularly
  • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables

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