How diabetes turns into dementia
I've heard of dementia referred to as "type 3 diabetes" because up to 70 percent of all diabetics eventually end up with it.
Now, new research shows why -- and it's just what I've been warning you about -- too much sugar causing too much insulin.
It's the damage caused by spikes in your blood sugar levels. More specifically, it's the damage caused by your body's attempts to control that excess sugar.
When your blood sugar levels rise, your pancreas is forced to work harder. It pumps out more insulin to deal with the sugar. If it happens too often, even the extra insulin becomes ineffective and you develop insulin resistance -- and, ultimately, diabetes.
But that's not all that happens when you have too much insulin.
Some of the excess insulin can slip out into your brain, where it doesn't belong. That requires your brain to use an enzyme to clear it out.
Trouble is, your brain also needs that enzyme to clean up excess protein. When it's used on insulin instead, the protein builds up -- specifically the beta amyloid proteins that turn into the infamous "brain plaques" that mark the damage of dementia.
The more plaques you have, the more memory you lose -- and the higher your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
In the new study of the effects of too much insulin, researchers watched this process unfold in diabetic rats until eventually they showed signs of memory loss and the rodent equivalent of dementia.
The researchers say the results show that diabetics should start taking Alzheimer's drugs even before memory loss kicks in -- but I think that's missing the point.
Most of those drugs don't even work in the first place.
The real answer here is to get control of your blood sugar so there won't be too much insulin to do that damage in the first place. And if you're not diabetic, that goes for you as well -- because studies have consistently shown that even slightly elevated blood sugar levels can eventually lead to memory loss and dementia.
Those are the levels that are above normal, but well below anything that would be considered diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Your doctor may be happy with blood sugar readings below 100, but even that's too high. Aim for 90 or less.