Did you know that having type 2 diabetes puts you at a 50-150% increased risk of acquiring type 3 diabetes?
You may be asking: what is type 3 diabetes?
It's dementia! Alzheimer’s disease being the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of dementia cases.
Should you be concerned?
With progressive loss of memory and cognitive function and a typical premature death within 3-9 years of diagnosis, Alzheimer’s disease is not a consequence anyone wants to face.
So with a 50-150% increased risk, you really should be concerned.
The good news is, taking control of your diabetes can prevent diabetes from getting control of you (or your mind).
Below we explore how type 2 diabetes can develop into type 3 diabetes, and we'll also cover the most effective strategies to help prevent this complication from happening to you.
The development of type 3 diabetes/Alzeimer's dementia occurs when there is an accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) protein in the brain. These amyloid plaques accumulate because of increased production or decreased removal.
Amyloid plaques block the signals between neurons and they also release beta-amyloid, a toxin that that injures neurons in the brain. As a consequence, regions of the brain slowly begin to decline.
In terms of type 2 diabetes, there are several associated risk factors that promote your chances of developing the disease.
The body is designed to maintain a stable blood sugar level through a balance of three factors:
- Insulin secretion (hormone released from your pancreas)
- Glucose (sugar) uptake from your bodies tissues (muscles, cells etc)
- Liver glucose production
When your metabolism is functioning properly, the glucose you consume from foods (mainly carbohydrates) is used by the bodies tissues and when necessary, backed up by the body's internal production of glucose – because the body is designed to maintain stable blood sugar.
However, the ability of your body to balance these mechanisms becomes altered in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, in which case:
- blood sugar levels become unstable
- insulin secretion often increases, then may eventually decline
- the body's tissues and cells do not uptake glucose effectively (insulin resistance)
- the liver's production of glucose often increases
These processes combined are known as ‘glucose toxicity.' So in other words, uncontrolled blood sugar or uncontrolled diabetes can lead to the development of glucose toxicity, which is a major contributor to the development of type 3 diabetes/Alzheimer's dementia.
That's why it's important that you take your health very seriously, be proactive and do what you can to control your diabetes -getting and keeping your blood sugar and A1c levels within a healthy range – it can prevent complications and extend your life!
Diabetes of the Brain
While high blood sugar and blood sugar dysregulation are big issues that you need to pay close attention to, they are also associated with an underlying issue—insulin resistance.
Over the past few years, research has uncovered a strong link between insulin resistance and forms of dementia like type 3 diabetes.
In the same way insulin resistance and systemic inflammation drive the development of type 2 diabetes, they drive the development of diabetes of the brain (Alzeimer's dementia).
Just like all other cells in the body, the brain needs fuel to function, preferring glucose as energy. When the brain is insulin resistant, the brain is starved for energy.
This generates oxidative stress and neuro-inflammation which in turn damages brain cells and stunts the growth of new neurons. Additionally, studies have found that the impaired insulin signalling may disrupt the clearance of amyloid proteins from the brain, which allows them to build up and cause plaques. Once started, this self-perpetuating cycle of inflammation and destruction is difficult to stop.
This is why it’s so important to dampen inflammation and work on increasing your insulin sensitivity as early as possible.
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The State of Your Gut
It may sound strange but the health of your gut, or rather the state of your gut bacteria (microbiome), has everything to do with the development of type 3 diabetes – and prediabetes and type 2 diabetes for that matter!
A 2013 review found that 81% of patients with Alzheimer’s also had type 2 diabetes or impaired fasting glucose tolerance (prediabetes), and a common factor tying these conditions together was a compromised microbiome (or in other words an imbalance in gut bacteria).
The researchers suggest two possible explanations as to why the gut bacteria may impact brain health:
- certain negative bacteria in the gut secrete neurotoxins that lead to Alzheimer’s.
- unhealthy microbiome send inflammatory stress signals to the brain via the vagus nerve and the “gut-brain-axis,” promoting increased cellular inflammation.
Your gut is home to an average one trillion gut bacteria, and over 1,000 different species of “bugs/bacteria,” both good and bad. Quite surprisingly, these bugs are involved in metabolism and control of all the bodies functions. So in order to maintain a healthy body and metabolism, a balanced ratio of good bugs to bad ones is needed.
Problem is, many modern lifestyle factors interfere with a healthy gut balance. Factors like stress, toxins (environmental and food), and most importantly, your dietary choices – these all influence your intestinal “terrain.” Over time, enough ‘negative' exposure fuels the bad bugs until they begin to overrun the good ones.
This not only affects the communication that occurs between gut bacteria and your genes/cells, but can lead to increased intestinal permeability (also called “leaky gut”), a condition in which food particles and debris seep through microscopic tears in your gut lining. Leaky gut can also be a major source of inflammation.
As a consequence of imbalanced gut bacteria, researchers are now linking the gut to the development of many health conditions, not just type 3 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and prediabetes but even conditions such as cancer.
Prevention of Type 3 Diabetes
Diseases like type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer’s) can be devastating, but there is plenty of hope for preventing the condition.
Since high blood glucose levels, inflammation and insulin resistance are major culprits behind both type 2 and type 3 diabetes, tackling those factors is the first step to reducing your chance of developing cognitive decline or other diabetic complications later down the road.
Read these tips to increase insulin sensitivity.
To promote a healthier gut bacteria, you can supplement your diet with probiotics.
You can also utilize various herbal remedies and natural supplements like berberine, apple cider vinegar and bitter melon to increase insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidative stress, and lower blood sugar levels.
And most importantly, adopting a high fiber, low carb diet may have the biggest impact on reducing overall inflammation. Your diet is also a key influencer over your blood sugar and A1c levels. Read these tips on lowering your numbers with diet.
Alzheimer’s dementia is type 3 diabetes. Having type 2 diabetes increases your risk of type 3 diabetes by 50-150%.
That's why it's recommended you gain good control of your diabetes (regulate your blood sugar within a healthy range – and keep it there!).
There is no quick fix magical pill that will solve the problem or eliminate your risk. So it's up to you to get proactive and look after your health.
Explore the resources above to learn more about how you can improve your blood glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, gut health and overall health.
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