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Insulin Resistance & Alzheimers Disease

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

Various disorders qualify as dementia, and Alzheimers is the most common.

Up to 80% of dementia cases are classified as Alzheimers Disease, and this affects 30 million people worldwide.

This number is expected to double every 20 years based on the current trends.

In 2017 nearly 13% of all deaths in the UK were attributed to Alzheimers and dementia.

One in ten people (10%) of people aged 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease. About one-third of people age 85 and older (32%) have Alzheimer's disease.

Whilst there are a number of factors that contribute to mental decline that falls under some of these categories, what is becoming increasingly clear is the very significant role Insulin-resistance has in the development of Alzheimers Disease.

Insulin is extremely important to normal brain function.

Insulin-Resistance (IR) in the brain, or too much insulin in the body can badly affect the brain.

Researchers have noted that the brain becomes insulin-resistant concurrent with the other tissues of the body.

Studies have shown that for every 10 years of general insulin-resistance, the brain looks 2 years older than the brain of an insulin sensitive person of the same age.

Short-term memory loss and long-term brain health are reliant upon an insulin-sensitive environment.

In his book What Makes Us Sick - Ben Bikman MD states that the most significant factors in the development of Alzheimers Disease in order are:

  1. Possession of the APO e4 phenotype (genetics)

  2. Age

  3. Education level (ongoing learning and brain activity)

  4. Fasting insulin

No much can be done about the first two factors on the list…you either have the APO e4 allele or you don’t and we all age, but keeping our brains active and managing our bodies insulin are two things we can control, through ongoing learning and brain plasticity development, diet and lifestyle.

In his article for Web MD, Neil Lava MD writes:

Research shows that people with prediabetes (insulin-resistance) or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of getting Alzheimers Disease and other types of dementia later in life”.

He went on: “Scientists think there are a few ways that problems with blood sugar control can lead to problems with your memory and thinking”.

In Alzheimer's Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes – Evidence Reviewed - Suzanne M. De la Monte, M.D. and Jack R Wands, M.D. noted:

Currently, there is a rapid growth in the literature pointing toward insulin deficiency and insulin resistance as mediators of Alzheimers Disease type neurodegeneration”.

Altogether, the results from these studies provide strong evidence in support of the hypothesis that Alzheimers Disease represents a form of diabetes mellitus that selectively afflicts the brain”.

Up to 80% of adults in the western world are thought to be insulin resistant to some degree. Our poor diets and lifestyle choices are partly to blame for this.

So…how do you become insulin-sensitive, and reverse insulin-resistance?

A number of things can help with this but a few great tips are:

  • Minimise foods that are heavily processed and contain high levels of sugar or carbohydrates - these stimulate insulin production.

  • Prioritise foods that contain proteins and fats - these do not stimulate insulin production.

  • Avoid or limit to as little as possible, foods with a high glycemic-load, such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, some fruits, sugar or sweetened drinks etc.

  • Exercise regularly, particularly HIIT or resistance training focussed on hypertrophy. This will help manage insulin response and utilise blood glucose.

  • Keep generally active.


Why We Get Sick - Benjamin Bikman. Click here to buy from Amazon.

Alzheimer's Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes – Evidence Reviewed - Suzanne M. De la Monte, M.D. and Jack R Wands, M.D.

Web MD, Neil Lava article

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