Friday, 28 April 2017

Preventing Alzheimer's Disease Can Start Now!

Alzheimer's disease is understandably terrifying. While dementia (which AD is a type of), is a feature of romantic dramas such as The Notebook, seeing a loved one disappear before your eyes is something that should belong to the horror genre. But just because something is scary, doesn't mean that you can't prevent it, as research shows.

So Alzheimer's disease is preventable. Now, the question is, are you insulin-resistant? Even though this is a very important question, as Georgia Ede, MD states, it is estimated that over half of Americans are insulin-resistant. Insulin resistance ruins our ability to process carbohydrates, disrupts fat metabolism and sets your body up for inflammation and overgrowth. This means a higher risk for obesity, cancer, heart disease, type II diabetes...and Alzheimer's disease.

Don't be a sitting duck!
Source: Stephen Heron (CC BY-SA: 2.0)
The purpose of insulin is to allow glucose (a simple sugar) into the muscle and fat cells. While the brain does not need insulin to absorb glucose, it needs insulin to process glucose. Even though glucose can easily cross the blood-brain barrier, even when you are insulin resistant, this is not the case for insulin. The receptors that control insulin's entry into the brain become resistant too, so they won't allow the required level of insulin into the brain. Then, this means that the brain cells literally starve to death, even when surrounded by glucose. Our hippocampus, which is the brain's main memory centre, is the first to be affected because it often goes through sudden spikes of glucose demand. Picture some hippos studying, teaching and researching history at a university...and if they don't have enough food, they'll quit! As the hippocampus is more sensitive to insulin resistance, you typically see memory loss as the first sign of Alzheimer's disease, even though it eventually destroys the whole brain. By the time someone is considered to have "mild cognitive impairment", or pre-Alzheimer's, the hippocampus has already shrunk by 10%.

But I thought it was all about beta-amyloid plaques? Actually these can be explained by insulin resistance too, and 80% of people with Alzheimer's have either diabetes or insulin resistance. Even though not all people with AD are diabetic, and vice versa, we can think of it like this: diabetes is insulin resistance of the body, AD and maybe some other dementias are insulin resistance of the brain. This is why the health world is beginning to call AD Type 3 Diabetes.

If you want to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, prevention starts now. Avoid all refined carbohydrates; this means processed foods and those with added sugar. If you find out that you are insulin resistant, then you need to watch all carbohydrates, and it may be best to transition to a low-carb, healthy-fat diet. Regular exercise also helps to regulate blood sugar. And as other research shows, you must completely avoid artificial sweeteners, which carry their own risks for dementia. You do not have to be a sitting duck, as conventional health advice says you are. You can be an empowered swimming duck, with control over your future!

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