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

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

Karen Owoc logoKaren’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
  • Stress
  • Aging

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.


Karen Owoc

Karen Owoc is a certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist specializing in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle medicine. Her science-based approach to longevity, nutrition, and muscle health has made her the go-to source for health seekers and medical professionals alike. Karen's best-selling book on functional longevity, "Athletes in Aprons: The Nutrition Playbook to Break 100", and her transformative perspective have mended many minds, hearts, and spirits.

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