We’ve determined that there is a very strong, if not direct, link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps the most recent findings, published in Jama, give the most accurate and comprehensible overview of this deep-seated relationship: that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is caused, directly or indirectly, by defects in brain metabolism, specifically that defective patterns of glucose and insulin metabolism may play a role in AD development.
The type 3 diabetes terminology is now 12 years old and holds true today, if not more substantial than ever.
We’ve known now for 26 years that the brain’s glucose metabolism is compromised in people with Alzheimer’s: in people with AD, up to 45% of glucose utilization to fuel the brain is unusable. Meaning, almost 50% of brain function is impaired.
Determining the Root Cause
But that brain impairment doesn’t happen overnight. While the glucose energy deficit certainly is at the root of Alzheimer’s, the source can be found in a type of metabolic dysfunction.
Metabolic dysfunction (also known as metabolic syndrome and metabolic disorder) is driven by:
- insulin resistance
- dyslipidaemia (elevated cholesterol levels)
- hypertension (elevated blood pressure levels)
The overlap is undeniable: metabolic dysfunction is closely tied to chronically elevated insulin states, which creates insulin resistance, which has been identified as a major risk factor for the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Reducing Insulin Resistance to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
While we wait for the discovery of the exact pathology, we can determine what needs to be done: reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance, or insulin sensitivity (the opposite way of looking at it) is perhaps the most important modifiable factor to consider in relation to Alzheimer risk.
If we take charge of our own nutrition and movement, we can prevent and even, in some cases, reverse the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s. We do it through a multi-pronged lifestyle approach. The most important aspect being lowering carbohydrate and sugar intake which directly lowers insulin resistance.
Add on regular movement, optimal sleep cycles, and stress level reduction, and you have the perfect environment to prevent and possibly reverse cognitive decline.
It’s such a simple approach, yet it’s seemingly impossible given the requirements. They sound so daunting initially. But once you form these new, healthful habits, you will slowly and steadily create the most optimal health for yourself.
Lifestyle habits have the greatest impact on your risk for dementia and Alzheimer's -- and they are all things we control. Use the information below as a starting point to creating your best version of health, wellness, and success.
What to Eat
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and alliums like garlic and onions
- Leafy green vegetables, like kale, arugula, spinach, lettuces, and collard greens
- Herbs, spices, and teas
- Avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- Wild-caught fish, especially salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring
- Pastured eggs
- Prebiotic foods like mushrooms, leeks, and jicama
- Resistant starches, such as legumes, rutabagas, parsnips, and green bananas
- Probiotic foods with live cultures, like sauerkraut, kimchi, sour pickles, miso soup, and kombucha low in sugar
- Lowest-sugar fruit like blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and grapefruit
How to Move
Get outside and walk as much as possible. You don’t even need to run. We’ve been over the benefits of walking before and cannot stress them enough. Walking, more than any exercise, gives you all the benefits of movement without imposing physical stress or inflammation on your body.
It increases sweating, which helps to remove various chemotoxins and biotoxins that increase our risk for Alzheimer’s (and other chronic illnesses); it improves insulin sensitivity, ketosis, cerebral oxygenation, kidney function, cardiac function, and so much more. Start with 20 minutes a day, and go from there. We know the problem; therefore, we know the solution. Of course, there are minor genetic and other, non-nutritional factors that can contribute to Alzheimer’s progression.
But, as we’re seeing over and over through scientific research, decisions we make about food are one risk factor we can control. And that may ultimately play the biggest role in our cognitive wellbeing.