That’s right, Type 3 diabetes – that’s not a typo. Yes you’re likely thinking, “I know about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, but what the heck is Type 3 diabetes?” A growing body of evidence indicates a strong link between Type 3 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Type 3 diabetes was first identified in 2005 when Brown Medical School researcher Suzanne M., MD, autopsied the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and found that they had signs of insulin resistance. As you may be aware, insulin resistance is an early indicator of diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that is vital for the normal functioning of cells throughout the body, including the brain. Our bodies run on glucose. Glucose, a simple sugar, is the primary fuel used by most cells in the body and the brain to generate the energy needed to carry out cellular functions.
But the cells cannot absorb glucose directly from the blood. That’s where insulin comes in. Insulin helps control the amount of glucose in the blood and is the mechanism that transports glucose into our cells.
Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body produces insulin but does not use it effectively. When people have insulin resistance, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being absorbed by the cells, leading to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.1
In the brain, insulin is also very important for making neurotransmitters, which are chemicals needed for neurons to communicate with each other. Insulin also stimulates many functions that are needed to form new memories and conquer tasks that require learning and memory.2 Now you may begin to see a link to Alzheimer’s disease with it’s characteristic loss of memory.
According to a study by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, insulin resistance in the brain precedes and contributes to cognitive decline above and beyond other known causes of Alzheimer’s disease. 3
One of the revelations of de la Monte’s research was the discovery of insulin’s effect on the brain–the development of Type 3 diabetes.4 Type 3 diabetes is a condition where the brain does not produce enough insulin. It seems that in the absence of insulin, the brain is affected much the same way the body is in Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. In fact, de la Monte states that “Type 3 diabetes only occurs in people who have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes already”.(4) Worse yet, research is now showing that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease is increased by 50 percent in people with diabetes.
So what does all this mean? We know that obesity is a key factor in the onset of both Type 2 and Type 3 diabetes. With more than 66 percent of Americans over-weight or obese, an enormous increase in Alzheimer’s disease may be inevitable.
But there is some good news in all this. The same lifestyle changes that have been shown time and again to be effective in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes have also be shown effective in the treatment of Type 3 diabetes. Doctor’s have found that one of the keys to treating and preventing the onset of Type 3 diabetes is to exercise.(3) Regular exercise three to five times a week combined with a healthy diet helps to maintain the healthy weight that wards off the disease.(4)
So if you want to live a long healthy life and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease as a result of diabetes, start making lifestyle changes now. Lose weight, get active, reduce your stress level, and enjoy all those years you have ahead of you!
Here’s a couple of very good short videos on obesity and the effects of being overweight:
- Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes. (2013). National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/insulinresistance/#resistance ↩
- Alzheimer’s: Diabetes of the Brain? | The Dr. Oz Show. (n.d.). The Dr. Oz Show. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/alzheimers-diabetes-brain ↩
- Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Health System. (2012). Brain Insulin Resistance Contributes to Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease. Penn Medicine. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/news/News_Releases/2012/03/insulin/ ↩
- De la Monte, S. M., & Wands, J. R. (2008). Alzheimer’s Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes–Evidence Reviewed. Journal of diabetes science and technology (Online), 2(6), 1101–1113. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/ ↩
According to the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, founder of the Brain Awareness Week (BAW)
BAW is the global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. Founded in 1996, BAW unites the efforts of partner organizations from around the world in a week-long celebration of the brain every March. Partners include universities, hospitals, K-12 schools, advocacy groups, government agencies, service organizations, professional groups, and affiliates.
During BAW, partners organize creative and innovative activities in their communities to educate and excite people of all ages about the brain and the promise of brain research. Activities are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations.
So mark your calendars to March 12-18, 2012 and join in the celebration of the brain.
- Brain Awareness Week is Approaching: March 12-18th, 2012 (sharpbrains.com)
- Gearing Up for Brain Awareness Week (danapress.typepad.com)
- Brain Awareness Week Campaign Event in Washington D.C. (danapress.typepad.com)
Misplace your car keys…again? Discover at the supermarket that we’ve left the shopping list at home? Blank on a friend’s name? You’re not alone. We all have those occasionally “senior moments.” Memory lapses can occur at any age, but aging alone is generally not a cause of cognitive decline. Still, memory loss is nothing to take lightly.
Memory changes can be frustrating, but the good news is that, thanks to decades of research, we now know that there are things you can do to help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia with some basic good health habits: staying physically active, getting enough sleep, not smoking, having good social connections, limiting alcohol to one drink a day, and eating a balanced diet low in saturated and trans fats.
In a recent article titled The 10 Habits of a Sharp Brain, CEO & Co-Founder of SharpBrains’, Alvaro Fernandez highlighted 10 of the most popular blog posts from the SharpBrains blog. These articles address important brain related topics such learning, nutrition, exercise, positive future-oriented thinking, social relationships and more.
If you’re not familiar with the SharpBrains and they work they do, reading these articles will give you a great introduction to their site and blog. I highly recommend them.
You can read The 10 Habits of a Sharp Brain here. While there, you might want to sign up for their monthly newsletter. It’s always interesting reading for those who have a brain and want to hang on to it.