Type 2 Diabetic Alzheimer Dementia and The Insulin Connection

Type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia is a reality. Diabetics are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's. But because of the insulin connection, you can do something about your risk.

Type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia caught my eye as I was reading about nasal insulin spray.

This product was on the market for a short while but did not get as much attention as the makers hoped.

At the National Veteran's Administration Hospital, researchers were studying Alzheimer dementia patients. Doctors had noted that levels of insulin in their brains were below what they should be.

The researchers decided to give those patients doses of nasal insulin spray as an experiment.

They hoped the insulin would reach their brains without causing hypoglycemia from high blood levels of insulin.

The results were very encouraging. Memory and thinking skills were improved for a while in many of the Alzheimer patients.

This was only one trial, so more studies will be done before nasal insulin spray is prescribed for Alzheimer's. But it shows there is a connection to insulin in type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia.

Click here to go to the home page for A Diabetic Life.

What Is the Connection?

Statistics show that having type 2 diabetes doubles your risk for Alzheimer dementia.

This is not the same as vascular dementia, which is often the result of hardening of arteries, strokes and heart disease.

The steps from diabetes to vascular dementia are easy to follow since diabetes damages blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease, strokes and vascular diseases as we age. But what is type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia?

When older diabetics with mental ability decline were tested, they had brain changes that look like both Alzheimer's and vascular dementia.

The cause seems to be the long-term effects on brain cells of their inability to use sugar and respond to insulin.

Increased mild cognitive impairment (called MCI) seems to be the stage between normal aging and Alzheimer dementia. There is a lot of interest in the pathways to Alzheimer because of the link to diabetes.

Making a Case for the Diabetic Connection

If there is such a thing as type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia we need to know it. Why? Because we might be able to slow its progress if we know the cause.

On Dr. Oz's website there is an interesting article titled "Alzheimer's - brain form of diabetes?"

The writer explains that in Alzheimer the brain's ability to use sugar is reduced. It is insulin that helps the brain take up sugar.

Since insulin is not as effective in a brain with Alzheimer dementia, brain cells begin to starve.

In type 2 diabetics the pancreas is producing insulin, but cells are not using it because of insulin resistance. This leads to high levels of both sugar and insulin in your blood.

The damage they cause leads to blood vessels that harden and weaken, along with inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

Your Brain and Insulin

But in patients with early Alzheimer the brain not only demonstrates resistance to insulin, it does not have as much as it should.

The resistance starts first affecting the sections that control memory and personality.

Insulin resistance gets serious very fast in the brain because insulin is supposed to help make neurotransmitters that are needed for neurons to talk to each other.

Did you know your brain actually makes its own insulin? This is the same kind that is made in your pancreas.

Since your brain makes its own hormone supply, there must be a connection. In type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia something interferes with the insulin maker.

All Alzheimer patients have one thing in common. It is the presence of brain plaques. These are formed by a protein called beta amyloid.

Diabetes interferes with the breakdown of beta amyloid so that it builds up, becoming one of the telltale signs of type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia.

Nitrates and Mortality Rates

While studying the diabetic Alzheimer dementia connection, I came across these facts. Heart disease and cancer statistics are down, but Alzheimer, diabetes and Parkinson disease have gone up.

Until 1980 diabetes as a cause of death was declining, but since then it has gone up steadily. That is in spite of improvements in medical treatment and understanding of the disease.

That kind of rise in death rates does not seem to point to a genetic cause but to an environmental one.

Right now one in ten people over 20 years old have diabetes. One in four people over 65 know that have it. And the World Health Organization thinks that there is a huge number of people who have type 2 diabetes and don't know it.

Alzheimer dementia is ranked the sixth leading cause of death. One in eight people over 65 have it, and half the people over 85 do.

And there seem to be strong parallels between the mortality rates from both Alzheimer and type 2 diabetes and our increasing exposure to nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines.

The connection is not an accepted fact but some researchers are giving it a hard look.

Large doses of nitrates, nitrites and nitrosamines are harmful to humans and animals, causing DNA damage, oxidative stress and breakdown of cell walls.

It is a proinflammatory, causing cytokine activation. And cytokines found in your liver and fat cells may be the inflammatory cause of type 2 diabetes.

Can Avoiding Nitrates Keep You From Diabetic Alzheimer's?

Nitrosamines are used to keep processed foods fresh. Looking at history, we have moved in the past 40 years to huge megafarms.

There are fewer and fewer small local farming communities. So more foods have to be brought from far away, which means more nitrosamines have to be used to preserve them.

Nitrites are in cured meats, and sodium nitrate is a common preservative in many processed foods.

The question right now is whether long-term chronic low doses of these nitrosamines could cause type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia.

While others are debating this, there are things you can do to reduce your levels of nitrosamines on your own.

You can avoid processed foods and learn to look for sodium nitrate among the preservatives on labels before you buy.

Fertilizers, pesticides and cosmetics rely heavily on nitrosamines, so there may be some in your water and on your skin.

Fried bacon, cured meats and cheese as well as beer have nitrates. So avoiding nitrosamines will be difficult.

What You Can Do Right Now

Avoiding nitrates as much as you can is a good start. But there is proof that well-controlled blood sugar is still the best way to avoid complications.

So watch your type 2 diabetes, using the insulin and medicines that keep your blood sugar well controlled. Take the medications you've been given for cholesterol and blood pressure too.

Diabetics need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day and eat healthy foods. Exercise is a proven way to avoid Alzheimer dementia.

You can add "brain food" to your diet. These diabetic superfoods are especially good for protecting brain function and slowing the aging process in your brain.

If these foods slow down type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia, they deserve the name superfoods.

  • Walnuts slow the aging of the brain with an antioxidant called luteolin. It may reduce memory deficits and inflammation of the brain too. You can also find luteolin in olive oil, peppers and celery.
  • Berries - blueberry juice has improved memory and depression in trials. It can slow aging and increase signal ability in your brain.
  • Fish rich in omega-3 such as wild salmon slows cognitive decline. It also has B12 which may actually protect you against Alzheimer's.
  • Coffee and tea may prevent Alzheimer's and improve your brain's function.
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables have vitamins C and E which have been shown to increase and protect brain function.

If you exercise your mind it keeps those brain cells agile. There is proof that brain games help people stay sharper as they age. And physical exercise will improve your brain function even after it has begun to decline.

More Things That Help

It becomes more important than ever to manage your sleep, because one of the results of early Alzheimer's is a messed up sleep cycle. The page on sleep will help you.

And if pain, restless legs syndrome, or depression is keeping you from sleep, do not ignore it. Get some help.

Type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia may have causes that have not been discovered. You may watch with interest and even hope as researchers dig into the mysteries of the body's systems.

But you have to live today. You can find joy in your creative outlets and your friends and family. That is the secret of living with type 2 diabetes.

  • "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." J.R.R. Tolkien

[Go back to the top]

Return to type 2 diabetes from type 2 diabetic Alzheimer dementia.