Diabetes; which is technically too much sugar circulating through your blood, can damage your organs and veins, and that includes your brain. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, it is a progressive and fatal brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer’s progresses, individuals may have changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions. High blood sugar may also be a sign of insulin resistance. In this disorder, the body doesn’t respond well to insulin, the basic hormone that helps blood sugar get into our cells and use it as fuel. At first, thebody makes more insulin to get the energy it needs. Eventually, the body is making all the insulin it can. If cells grow more insulin resistant, blood sugar will rise higher, and diabetes will develop. A constant high level in blood sugar and insulin can both damage the body. I have noticed that doctors nowadays do not ask for a routinely measured insulin, but ironically it is the main test I ask my clients to get before our first meeting. Other signs of insulin resistance or what is also called a metabolic syndrome are:
# A big waist (at least 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women)
# Blood pressure above 130/85
# Low levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol
What Is The Link Between Diabetes And Alzheimer’s?
Research is not complete regarding the causes of Alzheimer’s disease orexactly how Alzheimer’s and diabetes are connected. But the following has been proven in multiple studies:
# Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, which hurt the heart and blood vessels. Damaged blood vessels in the brain may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
# The brain depends on many different chemicals, which may be unbalanced by too much insulin. Some of these changes may help trigger Alzheimer’s disease. Insulin in the central nervous system (CNS) affects feeding behavior and body energy stores, the metabolism of glucose and fats in the liver and adipose, and various aspects of memory and cognition.
# High blood sugar causes inflammation. This may damage brain
cells and help Alzheimer’s to develop. Here’s the bad news/good news. A diet heavy in sugar and refined carbs can cause dementia on the long run, cutting out the sugar and refined carbs and adding more vegetables, legumes, dietary fat can prevent, and even reverse early dementia (good news!). We all read about or experienced the mind-body effect; you can impact your brain through your diet and heal your body. Our body and mind aren’t two separate systems; they’re one wise, continuous ecosystem. What you do to the body affects the brain, and what you do to the brain affects the body.
The main point for you to ponder is that blood sugar DOES affect your brain (if you’ve ever felt HANGRY or went on a chocolate-spree, then you know the drill). Also after all the recent studies published about the negative effects it has on our organs and general health, I strongly believe that blood sugar imbalances are a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s. Given this, it is so important for you to work on balancing your blood sugar to not only ward off or manage diabetes, but to also reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. When I am working with a client to get them off the blood sugar rollercoaster we always work on the following:
1. Eating breakfast that is low in Glycemic Index, has enough fiber, or high in protein and dietary fat.
2. Eating something every 3 hours to keep blood sugar in a stable zone, so that they do not get hangry and ruin the strategy.
3. Plan for a mid-afternoon snack to prevent the crash. Usually it’s a bunch of raw nuts (ps. Dietary fat doesn’t have an effect of insulin so it keeps it calm).
4. Try to eat carbs with a healthy fat and/or protein to reduce carbs’ impact, and always choosing unrefined carbs; ideally rich with fiber.
5. Exercise! Physical activity makes it easier to control your blood glucose (blood sugar) level. Diabetics have too much glucose in their blood, either because their body doesn’t produce enough insulin to process it, or because their body doesn’t use insulin properly (insulin resistant).
6. Get 8 hours of sleep every night. Studies show poor sleep becomes a risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night.
Zein Nimri is an AFPA certified sports nutritionist, NESTA kids nutritionist, long distance runner, cyclist and traveller with big dreams. Follow her on Instagram @Zeinutritionist she is currently an Eating Disorder Recovery Coach.