The Role of Insulin Resistance in Alzheimer’s Disease

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How is insulin implicated in dementia? Why are diabetes patients at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease?

Insulin resistance is heavily associated with the risk for dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is sometimes referred to as Type 3 diabetes. Generally, high blood sugar—even without insulin resistance—is associated with cognitive decline.

Keep reading to learn about the role of insulin resistance in Alzheimer’s disease.

Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease often involves a problem with insulin, the hormone responsible for delivering glucose from the bloodstream to the cells.

Without insulin, the cells don’t get the glucose they need to produce energy. In Type 2 diabetes, there is so much sugar in the blood, and so much insulin is pumped out by the pancreas in response, that the cells become desensitized to insulin. The role of insulin resistance in Alzheimer’s disease is well-established, with studies suggesting those with Type 2 diabetes may be twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Moreover, high blood sugar, even without meeting diabetic conditions, has also been linked to cognitive decline. The higher your blood sugar, the more likely you are to develop dementia.

By the Numbers: Obesity, Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s in the United States

Metabolic disorders are a leading cause of cognitive decline. The increasing rates of metabolic and cognitive disorders are both telling and alarming. Approximately 40% of adult Americans are obese. While obesity is often measured by body-mass index (BMI), and BMI is far from a scientific measure of obesity, the numbers are still a cause for concern. 

A total of 37.3 million people in the US have diabetes, or 11.3% of the population. Furthermore, an estimated 96 million people are prediabetic, meaning their blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic. Because most people with Type 2 diabetes are also obese, and because of the link between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, it is estimated that the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will rise from 6 million to 13 million by 2050. If we wish to lower these estimates, lowering sugar intake is a crucial first step.

The Role of Insulin Resistance in Alzheimer’s Disease

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  • The steps you can take to prevent cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s
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  • Foods to eat and avoid to maintain brain health

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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