The Connection Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

There are many things that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease including genetics, social isolation, head trauma, smoking, alcohol, physical inactivity, obesity and even some prescription medications. The fact that there are so many things that contribute to Alzheimer’s is why I am not optimistic there will ever be one single drug that will cure the disease. However, out of all chronic medical conditions diabetes holds the greatest correlation with developing this debilitating condition.

According to a new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it appears the main mechanisms that connects the two diseases are insulin and the enzymes that break it down. These same enzymes that break down insulin also break down amyloid-beta, which is the protein that forms tangles and plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. As your body becomes more resistant to insulin your pancreas has to make more and more to get the same effect. Given all this excess insulin in your system these enzymes are too busy breaking down insulin to break down amyloid-beta, causing amyloid-beta to accumulate.

The good news is that there are lots of things we can do to improve hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance in the form of dietary changes, lifestyle changes, exercise, and proper nutrient support.

Here are 10 quick things you can do to improve insulin sensitivity: 1. Exercise (especially HIIT) 2. Significantly reduce sugar and especially do not drink it! 3. Eliminate processed carbs 4. Eat healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, coconut oil) 5. Eat the rainbow of vegetables and berries 6. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night 7. Eat wild caught, oily fish and stick to grass fed beef  8. Make efforts to reduce stress. 9. Spice it up! use liberal amounts of spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, fenugreek and ginger 10. Optimize nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, chromium and inositol

In addition to maximizing the spices and nutrients mentioned above you can also consider dietary supplements to further reduce insulin resistance. One compound sparking a lot of interest in the literature regarding insulin resistance is Berberine.  Berberine has metabolic effects very similar to metformin but also has significant effects on body composition (waist circumference and waist to hip ratio) and dyslipidemia, which are not seen with metformin. Furthermore, berberine has long been known for its antimicrobial properties, which is another antidiabetic mechanism of berberine, through modulating the gut microbiota.

If we address the epidemic of metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, and obesity, we could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as the many complications that come along with diabetes.

Stay healthy!

Dr. Dyer