Be Mindful of the Connection Between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

The Connection Between Diabetes and Alzheimer's Disease

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease have been at the forefront of many health discussions. It is a fear that many of our aging population believe there is no answer. While much research is still needed, there is a term, ‘Type 3 Diabetes’ that may provide some insight into one area of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Over 34.2 million people in the U.S. have diabetes which is the 7th leading cause of death. More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s which is the 6th leading cause of death.

We are learning that many with diabetes have brain changes with characteristics of both Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia.

High glucose levels can damage blood vessels contributing to mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI may precede or accompany Alzheimer’s Disease.

Why the term type 3 diabetes? It’s linked to the glucose-insulin imbalance. Our brain using sugar and responding to insulin is one piece in helping to keep our brain cells healthy. Insulin is part of the process associated with learning and long-term memory. Insulin resistance could damage brain cells enough to cause memory loss.

The early signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s:

  • Forgetting recently learned information.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks such as driving to a familiar location.
  • Forgetting where you are or how you got there.
  • Changes in judgment or decision-making such as less attention to grooming or keeping clean.

How can we begin to tackle two diseases when we have limited information and more research is still needed?

Begin with changes and improvements that are in your control. Healthy glucose levels are the key to keeping healthy blood vessels.

  • Long-term high glucose levels and impaired insulin levels go hand in hand. Lower your glucose with consuming whole fresh food. If you feel you need to count carbs and calories for everything you eat, you may be eating some of the wrong food.
  • Exercise can help move glucose from your bloodstream to your cells where it belongs. A walk after your meal can certainly help!
  • Reduce your sugar intake from various food sources (bakery goods, desserts, sugary and energy drinks, high starch foods such as potatoes and rice).
  • Limit or eliminate fried foods.
  • Limit dining and snacking late in the evening. With diabetes your system may not efficiently metabolize your food and have difficulty returning to healthy glucose levels before bedtime.

It’s estimated by 2050, that Alzheimer’s cases can increase to 13.8 million people. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs or symptoms, reach out to a physician to begin the planning process for a life change.

Help for a caregiver as well as the patient is necessary. The Alzheimer’s Association can be a great place to find help and support for both. You can find more information at