An Update on the Link between Blood Sugar and Alzheimer's

  • December 16, 2019

A cause of and treatment for Alzheimer’s remain frustratingly elusive to researchers. As the number of adults in this country living with Alzheimer’s approaches the six million mark, more families find their lives impacted by this disease. Over sixteen million people provide unpaid care for an adult with Alzheimer’s.

Some research indicates lifestyle choices, such as diet and physical activity, may play a role in developing the disease. Another closely related area of research suggests a potential link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Experts continue to explore the idea that Alzheimer’s may be a form of diabetes.

Diabetes Rates Are Skyrocketing

Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Current estimates show more than thirty million Americans have diabetes. That translates to one in ten people in this country. Most are adults over the age of forty-five with type 2 diabetes accounting for the majority of cases.

Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle are believed to be fueling the surge.

Researching the Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes Connection

While the connections are still being investigated, here’s what scientists are saying about potential links between diabetes and Alzheimer’s:

  • The link between blood sugar and Alzheimer’s may result from the complex ways type 2 diabetes impacts the brain and body’s ability to process sugar and respond to insulin.
  • High blood sugar levels lead to inflammation throughout the body. Research shows people with Alzheimer’s have high levels of inflammation.
  • Diabetes can also damage the blood vessels, reducing blood flow. That may lead to vascular dementia. Some researchers believe vascular dementia may be a contributing factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Though the connection is far from solid, one thing is certain: taking steps to reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes is good for your overall health. It helps with weight management, cholesterol, heart disease prevention, and blood pressure. An added benefit is it may prevent Alzheimer’s.

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