Diabetes and Alzheimer’s – the connection no one’s talking about.
By Dr. Ian Hollaman DC, MSc, IFMCP
Until recently, we thought there were only two types of diabetes –  Type 1 and Type 2.  Now we have come to learn that there is another ~ Type 3 Diabetes.  Type 1 is an autoimmune condition seen typically in young children whereas Type 2 is a lifestyle disease due to unhealthy choices that leads to insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Type 2 has also been referred to as “adult onset” diabetes, although children are now developing Type 2 Diabetes due to poor diet and a sedate lifestyle. The symptoms of Type 3 Diabetes affects the brain specifically.  It has another name you may be more familiar with ~ Alzheimer’s disease.Type 3 Diabetes marks the progression from Type 2 Diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  A dramatic decline in cognitive function and marked memory deficits highlight the key symptoms of Type 3 Diabetes.We can clearly see that your pancreas is not the only organ that changes function due to high blood sugar levels.  Instead of just having insulin resistance in the muscle, liver, and fat cells, we can develop insulin resistance in the brain.
People with diabetes have a 60 percent increased risk of developing any type of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Gary Small, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute said, “these risk factors tend to add up: If you have diabetes, that doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. If you have a first-degree relative—a parent or sibling, for example—with Alzheimer’s, that doubles your risk.” And if you have poorly controlled blood pressure, abdominal obesity, or sleep apnea, your risk of developing dementia is increased even more.How does type 2 diabetes lead to type 3 diabetes and Alzheimer’s?
For starters, high blood sugar leads to inflammation throughout your body and brain. This is a problem because chronic inflammation has been linked with the formation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, abnormalities in the brain that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Science now understands that it is the lack of insulin — or insulin resistance that not only impairs cognition, but is implicated in the formation of those amyloid plaques.Type 3 diabetes is a form of Neuro-Diabetes. Insulin resistance can impair blood flow to the brain causing damage to the blood vessels.  This means that adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients are not transported to brain cells, thus decreasing their function. This in turn causes the neurons to die off at a faster rate. Type 2 diabetes can cause toxic proteins to accumulate in the brain and it may impair the brain’s ability to clear out waste products compromising important brain functions such as the formation and maintenance of new connections between brain cells.
Just as insulin resistance plays out in the rest of the body, when there’s impaired insulin signaling in the brain, brain cells can’t use glucose properly, and brain function suffers as a result. In case that isn’t worrisome enough, when circulation to the brain is compromised, you’re also more prone to developing strokes.What you can do
Nutrition.  An anti-inflammatory diet can help add years to your life and life to your years. Enjoying an anti inflammatory diet designed specifically for you that includes healthy food combinations that fight inflammation and address your food allergies and triggers is key to combating diabetes.
Manage your weight and exercise.  Besides being a risk factor for the development of Type 2 and Type 3 Diabetes, abdominal obesity increases your risk of heart disease and impairs brain health, and increasing the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep your mind sharp.  What you do to help your brain also helps your body. Neurofeedback can help rehabilitate your neurological functioning.  Neurofeedback can retrain and repair areas of the brain that have been damaged by diabetes. Specific areas of the brain can be targeted to have the most impact. Thanks to the brain’s neuroplasticity, which is its ability to repair itself, with proper support from neurofeedback, the brain can regain strength and function in areas like working memory and executive functioning (a set of mental processes that involve planning, organizing, controlling attention, and flexible thinking).
It is essential to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep.  Sleep is when the body does a majority of its repair and healing.   Managing stress, anxiety and depression are also keys to brain health.

While these can feel daunting, something as simple as Neurofeedback can be most effective!  It can help you overcome the symptoms that are holding you back from taking charge of your diabetes and your health!

We see the daily struggle in our client’s mood, energy and mental clarity when they have elevated blood sugar levels and Type 2 diabetes.  Fortunately we can uncover the root causes of these challenges with functional medicine and link systems together that are creating these complicated challenges!  By addressing the underlying hormonal, gut, environmental and lifestyle factors driving the inflammation in your body and brain, there is great potential for reducing blood sugar levels, optimizing blood pressure, reducing cardiovascular risk markers, improving weight management, lifting the fog that robs the joy from your life, and even improving your brain function!
Red Tail Wellness is Boulder and Denver’s premier functional medicine clinic focusing on metabolic conditions like Type 2 and Type 3 Diabetes.  With a customized plan, you can have the tools necessary to take back your life!  If you have been suffering, don’t wait!  Your tomorrow will be brighter as your health soars!

Contact the Red Tail Wellness Centers and join us for our FREE health seminar:
Functional Neurology: Supporting the aging brain
October 25th at 6:00pm OR October 26th at 11:00am
Space is LIMITED, call and reserve your seat today +303.882.8447
* CNS Drugs. 2003;17(1):27-45.
The role of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease: implications for treatment.
Watson GS1, Craft S.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12467491