Is Alzheimer’s really a  type 3 diabetes of the brain?

Evidence suggests it is.

By which I mean that insulin and Avandia, drugs used to control diabetes somewhat successfully have a definite beneficial effect on the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Note that is NOT the same as saying they will help Alzheimer’s, once developed.

This startling new turn has been reinforced by a study published Feb 2009 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers at Northwestern University treated nerve cells from the hippocampus, which is where we make our lasting memories. They subjected cells to insulin and the drug Avandia, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes. In doing so the researchers discovered that insulin protected the cells from clumps of toxic proteins called beta-amyloid. This structural change (amyloid plaques), along with neurofibrillary tangles, are the two definitive markers for Alzheimer’s.

It is beginning to look like Alzheimer’s is actually a third type of diabetes! Dr. Sergio T. Ferreira, a member of the research team and a professor of biochemistry in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said in a news release,"Recognizing that Alzheimer’s disease is a type of brain diabetes points the way to novel discoveries that may finally result in disease-modifying treatments for this devastating disease."

Brain cells need insulin to survive and a drop in brain insulin levels leads to brain cell damage. Memory loss can occur if the cells that die are located in the hippocampus.

Patients with type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, or the body does not use insulin properly. It’s the same thing, meaning a “no insulin effect”.

Clearly the new study shows that lowered insulin leads to damage of the memory-forming structures and automatically raises the risk of Alzheimer’s. Avandia was beneficial because it raises insulin levels.

Well, we all know that sensitivity to insulin decreases as we age. Indeed, many doctors think this is THE number one marker for aging and senility. Ironically, this so-called “insulin resistance” is measured by increasing insulin levels in the blood. The insulin has less and less effect but the body goes on secreting it hopefully, in increasingly larger amounts.

So if you want to age well, keep your insulin levels DOWN. Eat less sugar and starch.

So, of course, we come back to the old argument that eating sugary junk food causes diabetes. Incredibly, some doctors argue this isn’t proven. Do they maybe work for the sugar industry or hold shares?

Finally, if you haven’t joined the dots yet, Alzheimer’s is not a genetic condition, whatever is claimed. It’s environmental and triggered by lousy diets, especially sugar, starch and junk.

SOURCE: De Felice, F. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Feb. 2, 2009.

Just to hammer the message home!

Coincidentally another study was published in the same week, which showed diabetes increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia by over 200%.

The study, which focused on over 13,000 Swedish twin sets, found that people who diagnosed with diabetes before age 65 years had more than double the normal chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The connection vanished once the seventh decade was entered.

By focusing on twins, researchers removed many genetic differences, as well as differences in poverty level, at least during childhood.

Dr. Weili Xu, PhD of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues write that their findings offer one more reason to believe that diet and lifestyle are critical for avoiding dementia later in life."

Yet nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. That’s a ticking time bomb for disaster.

The Xu study is published in the January issue of the journal Diabetes.

SOURCE: Xu, W. Diabetes, January 2009; vol 58: pp 71-77.