Posted By Miriam Campos Root
Have you heard of the ‘Brain-Gut’ connection? Well there’s a new player in town; Type 3 Diabetes or also known as T3D that has been associated with increased risk in Alzheimer’s disease which is a form of dementia. Some medical professionals have referred Alzheimer’s disease as Type 3 Diabetes. As with Type 2 diabetes, insulin plays a major role in providing nutrients to the brain and the rest of the body. In the brain, insulin affects hunger hormones and appetite and memory and learning. Insulin resistance may impair brain function when neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin. Since insulin is important for forming memories, as people get older, like the elderly, they may be less efficient in receiving insulin from the blood into the brain.
According to the Diabetes Forum- The Global Diabetes Community, people that have insulin resistance, in particular those with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of suffering from Alzheimer's disease and estimated to be between 50% and 65% higher. Diabetes can develop from prolonged high insulin levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control Alzheimer’s and diabetes is the sixth and seventh leading cause of death in the United States. The epidemic levels of these two diseases alone cannot be ignored for the sake of the future health of our men, women, and children.
Our brain is highly dependent on a healthy gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract to provide the nutrients it needs to function. The gut and brain is a two-way process meaning that people who are experiencing dysfunctional mental health often experience gut problems such as IBS. The brain depends on the G.I. tract's ability to assimilate and deliver nutrients which act as essential building blocks for neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that communicate information throughout our brain and body. We need glucose in continuous amounts in the brain and with proper digestion and absorption our brain can receive glucose and the amino acids from proteins that are needed for neurotransmitter function.
However, when our sugar levels are elevated the cells become resistant and are unable to receive it, it gets placed into the fat cells that often accumulate around the abdomen.
Increased insulin may also disrupt other hormones in our body such as increased testosterone in women which may result in disruptions in her ovulation cycles. High insulin levels may also result in increased adrenaline and cortisol levels thus affecting the thyroid hormone production. There are other diseases that may develop from insulin resistance such as metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, PCOS, infertility. But one of the unhealthiest situations that can develop from chronic high insulin levels is diabetes as well as obesity. All these conditions are in an inflammatory state.
Here’s what is apparent to me, there are many theories as to what causes the destruction of brain cells leading to Alzheimer’s disease such as genetics, a slow growing virus, general toxins and pollutants, autoimmune response, insufficient hormone delivery, brain injuries, and nutrient deficiency. So, in addition to these conditions, we now add type 2 diabetes to the group or any other conditions resulting from insulin resistance. The risk of Alzheimer’s disease has just exponentially increased at an alarming rate considering the number of type 2 diabetes cases, not to mention the approximately 20 percent of undiagnosed cases.
This is truly dismal news, but the GOOD news is these conditions may be preventable in many instances with healthy lifestyle changes.
As a Holistic Nutritional Consultant I help clients to take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s or work with an individual who is trying to manage this condition. Diet is the fundamental basis for any health condition, and an ideal place to start on the road to healing.
Most people know that eating sugar and refined carbs can spike insulin levels, and too much sugar can really cause havoc to body systems especially with diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and now Alzheimer’s disease cases. Our grocery shelves are filled with too many packaged processed foods containing refined sugars and flours that makes it a challenge not be tempted. According to The Diabetes Council, high levels of blood sugars are thought to be the underlying cause of nerve and vessel damage in diabetes, and now in Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar acts like a drug on the brain, like a slow acting toxin and highly addictive.
The dietary approach for both type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease that I suggest is a nutrient dense whole foods meal plan rich in organically grown vegetables especially green leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard, collard greens, and kale. Garlic, onions, and red and purple fruit are rich in antioxidants and assist with regulating blood sugar. Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, and have been known to contain compounds that are beneficial for glucose balance. Additional antioxidant supplements may be helpful for protection, prevention, and management.
Next high on the list for both conditions is foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and tuna as well as flaxseeds and walnuts which are essential for optimal learning, mood, stress, immune function, integrity of cells, blood vessels and nerves, and cardiovascular health. Other supportive healthy fats include extra virgin olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, organic whole eggs, nuts, and seeds. Avoiding excess saturated fats and transaturated fat is highly suggested in fried or prepackaged foods containing fat that can become oxidized and become rancid. Receiving high quality proteins is essential for adequate amino acids to help build neurotransmitters in the brain. Legumes contain high amounts of fiber and contain protein and nutrients that have a beneficial effect on blood sugar regulation.
In addition to diet, lifestyle changes are just as important such as managing stress, getting enough sleep, regular exercise and healthy weight management, keeping hydrated, and routine detoxification.
According to the United State Census Bureau, the fasting growing population is residents over the age of 65 that grew from 35 million in 2000 to 49 million in 2016, with the baby-boom generation leading this trend. Since Alzheimer ’s disease is predominantly seen in the elderly, these statistics may give a strong indication that this disease will reach epidemic levels and will need much community attention.
Alzheimer’s disease can take years to develop as a slow progression. I suggest to my clients to seek education early to learn how to prevent it. Through education, diet and lifestyle, we can start to reduce these statistics, relieve some of the health burden in our society, and share in the quality of life with our parents and grandparents.
© 2018, Positively Whole