When you or a senior you love is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the lack of answers about the cause of the disease and potential treatments can be distressing. But scientists feel they are getting closer to understanding a potential link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Here’s what researchers know right now.
Does Research Support the Theory that Alzheimer’s is Type 3 Diabetes?
Since 2005, the science to support a link between dementia and insulin-resistance has grown stronger. Some researchers have even begun to refer to Alzheimer’s by a new name: Type 3 diabetes.
Studies show seniors with diabetes are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Nearly 26% of adults age 65 and older have diabetes. One out of eight older adults lives with Alzheimer’s disease.
While researchers aren’t clear about the cause-and-effect between these two diseases, they are confident in saying high blood sugar can have a negative impact on brain health.
How Blood Sugar Impacts Brain Health
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body isn’t producing the correct amount of insulin or doesn’t process insulin properly. As blood sugar levels increase, it places greater stress on blood vessels in the body. This includes blood vessels in the brain. The result is the arteries in the brain begin to harden and narrow and less blood is able to reach the brain. An older adult’s cognitive abilities may decline as a result.
Excess sugar can also inhibit the brain’s ability to break down fatty membranes. When these membranes clump together, they form the plaques and tangles present in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Lowering Your Risk for Diabetes
While researchers still don’t know for sure what causes Alzheimer’s disease, they believe there are lifestyle factors that may help prevent or delay the onset of it. This includes lowering your risk for diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, a few steps you can take to ward off diabetes include:
- Good Nutrition: Eating nutritious, well-balanced meals that are a combination of proteins, grains and non-starchy vegetables. They have an interactive tool called Create Your Plate that helps you learn more.
- Regular Exercise: Most physicians recommend 150 combined minutes of exercise performed throughout the week.
- See the Doctor: It is also important to have a good working relationship with a primary care physician you trust. He or she can help you monitor and manage cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Don’t Smoke: If you smoke, it’s time to find a way to quit. There are a variety of programs designed to make stopping smoking easier.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption: While some research indicates a glass of red wine a day might help your heart, overdoing it can have dangerous health consequences. Talk with your physician for advice.
We encourage you to continue to follow the Five Star Senior Living bl