3 min|Rhiannon Lockhart
Can Blood Sugar Influence Alzheimer's Disease?Mind Health, Cognitive Health
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer’s disease was first diagnosed by German psychiatrist and neuropathologist, Professor Alois Alzheimer in the early 1900s. It is the most prevalent form of dementia in the aging population with over 30 million people currently living with the disease worldwide. (2) Alzheimer’s is marked by a gradual decline in cognitive abilities and memory function, and the presence of amyloid-beta and tau proteins. Many people with late-onset of the disease will also have the ApoE4 gene present, something that can assess risk earlier in life. (2)
Who is at higher risk for Alzheimer’s Disease? (3)
Certain conditions have a higher correlation with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis including:
High blood pressure
Traumatic brain injury
Lifestyle factors also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease risk:
Lack of physical activity
More than 12 alcohol drinks per week
Low levels of cognitive engagement
Memory loss that disrupts daily life
Loss of spontaneity and sense of initiative
Losing track of dates
Knowing current location
Taking longer to complete daily tasks
Trouble handling money or paying bills
Forgetting recently learned information
Challenges in planning or solving problems
Wandering and getting lost
Misplacing items in odd places
Diabetes and Alzheimer's disease?
Many studies show that blood sugar has a direct correlation with Alzheimer’s disease. In populations with Type 2 Diabetes, it can be common to find reduction in brain volume and cognitive impairment compared to those without diabetes (5) In fact, it has been found that older adults with type 2 diabetes experience double the rate of cognitive decline over 5 years compared to those without type 2 diabetes. (6) This is likely due to the importance of insulin in normal memory functioning. (5) When insulin is functioning normally, it provides a positive effect on our cognition. However, when there are prolonged increases in circulating insulin there is the opposite impact on our brain function. (5)
The good news?
You can be in the driver’s seat of your blood sugar with the right diet and lifestyle approach!
Can you prevent Alzheimer’s disease?
With proper diet, lifestyle and supplement intervention, we can reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s, even if we are genetically predisposed. For some, there is also potential that we can stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. (7)
In fact, much of it comes back to blood sugar regulation and improving insulin sensitivity.
How can we improve insulin sensitivity?
The approach to take will be dependent on your level of insulin resistance. It is best to speak to your naturopathic doctor to determine what is ideal for you. This may include:
- Intermittent fasting or time restricted eating
- Increased protein at meals
- Using slow carbohydrates
- Walking after a meal
- Low-carbohydrate diet
- Starting a meal with a bitter green salad