According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 100 million adults in the U.S. are now living with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. Researchers now suggest that this disease could increase your risk of “brain diabetes”. Here’s why…
What is Brain Diabetes (Type 3 Diabetes)
There is considerable evidence that diabetes is related to brain diseases. Experts are now referring to the progression from type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia to type 3 diabetes or brain diabetes. Type 3 diabetes or brain diabetes occurs when neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin which is essential for memory and learning.
The Prevalence of Diabetes — Is it an indicator of Alzheimer’s incidence in the future?
More than 30 million Americans (9.4% of the U.S. population) have diabetes (that’s about 1 in 10), and 90% to 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Another 84.1 million have PRE-diabetes. If pre-diabetes is left untreated, it often develops into type 2 diabetes within five years. People with type 2 diabetes are 50-65% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people with normal blood sugars.
As the population ages, it is expected that dementia incidences will increase 400% in the next 20 years.
Diabetes: A Model of Accelerated Aging
Diabetes is referred to as a “model of accelerated aging”. Type 2 diabetes typically afflicted people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults have it. Younger diabetics suffer a variety of degenerative diseases earlier and with greater severity than non-diabetics and seem to age more rapidly than normal.
Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes are Linked
Having diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease. Research shows if you get cardiovascular disease, it is likely to affect your cognitive function. Plaque builds up in your brain as well as your heart. Unhealthy patterns of cholesterol disrupt communication between nerve cells in your brain and contribute to memory and mental destruction.
Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes are Linked
A 27-year study revealed the following:
- Obese people (BMI > 30) were 74% more likely to have dementia.
- While overweight people (BMI 25 to 29) were 35% more likely to have dementia.
Risk of memory loss increases as waistline increases. Possible speculation is that substances such as leptin*, a hormone released by visceral or “belly” fat, may have some adverse effects on the brain.
*Leptin plays a role in appetite regulation but also in learning and memory. Leptin is responsible for feelings of satiety (tells you when you’re full). Overweight people have elevated leptin levels circulating in their blood, but their bodies often build up a resistance to leptin. That’s why they may get stuck in a viscous cycle of eating and never feeling satisfied.
How to Lower Risk of Diabetes and Alzheimer’s
- Get a checkup / A1C blood test
- Stop smoking
- Reduce intake of sodium, saturated fats, and sugar
- Exercise daily (See Safe Exercise Training with ‘Diabesity’)
- Maintain ideal weight
- Drink less alcohol
- Take medications as directed
Karen’s Fit Tip: The scientific evidence is clear. Brain aging begins as early as your twenties. Don’t let your brain grow old before you do! Lifestyle diseases occur primarily as a result of your daily habits.
- Bad food habits
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco or alcohol abuse
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented if parents start their children on a healthy lifestyle path early in life. Manage stress and maintain good food and activity habits.