Alzheimer's Disease and Diabetes are more or less tied for the designation for the sixth leading cause of death. Far too many people fear Alzheimer's (second only to cancer) but often ignore "tight control" over blood sugars to effectively avoid, prevent or postpone diabetic complications; one of which is gradual mental decline. In fact, one of the "complications" of diabetes is a significantly elevated risk for dementia which initially manifests itself as fuzzy thinking but gradually progresses towards something far worse. While the exact link between diabetes and Alzheimer's is still under study, this article from the NCBI archives (November 2008) does lend credence to the growing number of researchers who suggest that Alzheimer's could and should be classified as diabetes Type 3 (insulin resistance and/or insufficient insulin in the brain). The problem is made even more difficult by the fact that so many diabetics (as well as members of their own health care team) erroneously think that "tight control" is keeping A1c under 7.0 (the minimum should be under 5.6 IMHO).
The Sacramento Bee published this article yesterday (June 25th, 2013) that reminded me of the often late diagnosis that many physicians make of patients who go into mental decline. The wife of a close friend of mine was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer's after she arose in the middle of the night and went for an aimless stroll while vacationing in Las Vegas. The fact that she was wearing pajamas and slippers failed to alert the hotel security guard (who was stationed by the elevators) and she went missing for several hours. Fortunately, she was eventually located outside the premises and safely returned. The hotel revised its guest monitoring procedures as a result of that incident.
Many of you already know that good blood glucose control will prevent or postpone the complications of diabetes. However, far too many (majority perhaps?) still seem to think that A1c levels above 6.0 and BG levels above 100 are still healthy, reasonable or "near-normal". Perhaps this article in Science Daily will shed more objective light on the topic which states that 90% of diabetics are ineffectively treated. If you prefer to read the original source articles that the Science Daily one is based on, just visit the IHME website which published the original studies and data.
Thank you very much for posting this. It is very informative, helpful and eye-opening. At least for me.
My dad is 83 years old and now in a nursing home with moderate Alzheimer's. He has been a Type 2 Diabetic for over 30 years and is now controlled with insulin. My greatest fear now is that I will also get Alzheimer's. I have been managing Type 2 Diabetes since 2001 and admittedly not always as well as I could and should. Right now I am averaging 90-100 FBG. My latest A1c level was 7.9 with average FBG about 150. I have not realized how strong the correlation between Alzheimer's and Diabetes until this post.
For the past few months I have had a renewed determination to get my health conditions in better control by making more changes in my lifestyle. Your post and the included links give me even more incentive to be persistent in my efforts.
Timely Update: from the June 27th, 2013 edition of Dr. Gabe Mirkin's e-Zine (note: Dr. Mirkin fully welcomes the copying of his e-Zine's contents so there should be no question or doubt regarding fair use provisions):
A High-Sugar and Meat Diet May Increase Alzheimer Risk A diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats causes changes in the brain that are seen in Alzheimer's disease (JAMA Neurology, published online June 17, 2013). This same diet caused changes seen in diabetes: *high blood sugar levels, *high blood insulin, *low cerebrospinal fluid (brain) insulin seen in diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, and *very high levels of cerebrospinal fluid unbound beta amyloid that forms the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. A low saturated fat and sugar diet decreased unbound beta amyloid.
The brain damage of Alzheimer's disease may be caused by a buildup of beta amyloid in the brain. This study shows that a high sugar and meat diet may increase risk for Alzheimer's disease by preventing the body from clearing beta amyloid from the brain. Your body clears beta amyloid by binding it to a protein called apolipoprotein E (ApoE). The meat and high-sugar diet used in this study prevented unbound beta amyloid from being cleared from the body. The study diet had a very high glycemic index (greater than 70). Forty-five percent of its energy came from fat, 25 percent from saturated fat, 35-40 percent from carbohydrates and 15-20 percent from protein. It was loaded with cheeseburgers, soda drinks, and French fries. The comparison group ate a very low-fat diet with a low glycemic index (less than 55). It consisted of 25 percent of energy from fat, less than seven percent from saturated fat, 55-60 percent from carbohydrates, and 15-20 percent from protein. The foods included poached fish, brown rice, and steamed vegetables. Adherence to both diets were excellent.
Lack of Brain Insulin Causes Alzheimer's Disease The study shows that lowering brain insulin levels raises Alzheimer disease molecules. The normal brain requires insulin for memory. In diabetes (insulin resistance), high levels of insulin in the blood lower insulin in the brain to reduce the transport molecules that remove beta amyloid, causing beta amyloid to accumulate in the brain which may be the cause Alzheimer's disease. A diet that leads to diabetes also causes the same changes that are seen in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Prevent Alzheimer's Disease the Same Way You Prevent Diabetes The study suggests that Alzheimer's disease is really a diabetes of the brain and could be prevented with the same lifestyle changes that are recommended to prevent diabetes: * Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. * Avoid red meat, fried foods, all sugared drinks including fruit juices, and sugar-added foods. * Try to exercise at least an hour every day, particularly before and after you eat. * Get blood levels of hydroxy Vitamin D above 75 nmol/L.
He explains how too much insulin "kills" just as effectively as too much blood glucose.
Nobody seems to address this critical point in this community. When you're on meds, especially insulin injections, two things must be emphasized with the patient.
A. You best learn how to properly administer it (meds) and, with the careful supervision of your doctor, finely tune it in as accurately as possible because too much insulin causes just as much as devastation to vital systems as high blood sugar.
B. Just because you're taking meds, doesn't mean you get a free pass on proper diet and, especially, exercise. It's the only way to keep both sugar and insulin levels in the blood stream at safe levels, imo.
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