3 min|Rhiannon Lockhart

Can Blood Sugar Influence Alzheimer's Disease?

Mind Health, Cognitive Health
Over 747,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. (1) While there is a strong genetic component to Alzheimer’s, there is also growing evidence that lifestyle and diet can play a big role in how, and if, it presents itself. One particular area of promise is around how blood sugar influences the disease.

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

  • Diabetes

  • Hearing Loss

  • Traumatic brain injury

  • Age

  • Depression

Lifestyle factors also play a role in Alzheimer’s disease risk:

  • Smoking

  • Poor diet

  • Lack of physical activity

  • More than 12 alcohol drinks per week

  • Low levels of cognitive engagement

  • Social isolation

  • Female at birth

  • Age

Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease: (4)
  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life

  • Poor judgment

  • 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

  • Mood changes

  • Increased anxiety

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:

The most important way to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is to take a proactive approach to your health. Book an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor to create a plan for you today.

Popup disabled