As of today, ~10% of 65-year-olds get Alzheimer’s, ~25% of 75-year-olds, and the whopping ~50% of 85-year-old and above. And given how the elderly are the fastest-growing group in the developed world, those numbers are bound to keep rising. Many researchers believe that by the year 2050, ~106 million people will be affected by Alzheimer’s.
What is the link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes?
According to some recent research, insulin resistance is one of the leading causes of early brain damage that eventually lead to Alzheimer’s. This puts the disease in close relation to diabetes which is also caused by insulin resistance or by the consumption of too many carbs.
This isn’t just a problem for older folks. Not only is insulin resistance more and more common in mid-aged and younger people but the brain damage that eventually leads to Alzheimer’s can be noticeable before the disease as well. Memory loss, slower brain function, reduced IQ – all these problems can worsen slowly but significantly for years even before dementia or Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed. And the lack of an official diagnosis doesn’t mean this isn’t a problem worth dealing with or preventing.
Additionally, other studies have also shown that people with diabetes have a 4x increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. And people with pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome have an increased risk of having pre-dementia or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
How to avoid all of this? A healthy, personalized, and complete diet and exercise regime. The underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease – too much sugar in the brain as well as in the rest of our bodies. That leads to inflammations, which wrecks your metabolism, and then leads to even more insulin resistance more inflammation, and a vicious cycle is born.
What’s the solution?
A proper diet, supplements, and exercise can not only prevent but even slow down and reverse dementia and Alzheimer’s if they’re caught early. As Dr. Hyman puts it, “To do that, you must control your insulin and balance your blood sugar levels, which will allow you to overcome diabesity and balance your mood, help your focus, help boost your energy level, and prevent all of the age-related brain diseases including Alzheimer’s.”
The Right Foods Make a Difference
A diet with herbs can help optimize a person’s cholesterol. Adequate intake of folate and vitamins B6 and B12 can help lower homocysteine. Eating foods like kale, cilantro, watercress, and taking supplements like zinc can help detox the body from mercury.
After several months to a year of such a comprehensive diet combined with exercise, positive results and amazing recoveries can be seen. Even people with pre-diabetes and pre-Alzheimer’s will not only have improved overall health but also drastically improved cognitive abilities and slowed down cognitive decline.
All this is based on the basic principles on which “Functional Medicine” is based – treat the underlying causes and not the symptoms. Of course, to do that people will usually need comprehensive gene and biochemical tests but that’s why taking care of our health isn’t easy.
For some more general advice, here are 8 steps for slowing down or reversing the root causes of diabetes and Alzheimer’s:
- Balance your blood sugar. This means eating less refined foods, less sugar, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, processed foods, etc.
- Instead, focusing more on healthy foods such as avocados, nuts, grass-fed meats, olive and coconut oil, and other healthy fats.
- Exercise daily. A common and seemingly basic advice, but crucial nonetheless. Even a brisk 30-minute daily walk can be life-changing and alter your entire medical future.
- Check your sex and thyroid hormone levels routinely. Hormonal imbalance can contribute significantly to your insulin resistance and other underlying problems.
- Don’t shy away from supplements. Even if you’re eating well, it’s still wise to focus on at least some basic supplements. Our bodies aren’t really designed to get to the advanced age that modern medicine helps them reach, so if we want to be healthy in our old age, we need to take some extra steps along the way. Such supplements typically include vitamin D3, good probiotics, folate and B6 & B12, omega-3 fat supplements, multi-vitamins, zinc and magnesium, and others.
- Control your stress. A lot of us lead extra hectic and stressful lifestyles today even though modern life was supposed to make our lives “easier”. Managing our stress is crucial, however, as it can often toss our entire hormonal and biochemical balance off.
- Sleep well. Sleep is vital for all processes in our bodies, including our brains. It’s especially important for preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia as it’s what heals our brain overnight. Therefore, getting at least 7-8 hours of stable sleep each night is very important.
- Detox periodically from mercury and other heavy metals. Every detox program should be done with medical supervision, however, so that it’s compliant with your body’s individual condition and needs.
Yes, these are basic tips, and yes, they are overly general. That’s why, if you suspect a problem, a medical professional can help you with more personalized solutions. However, even just maintaining a balanced diet, good sleep and stress control, and regular exercise, most people can give themselves extra years and even decades of a healthy Alzheimer’s-free and diabetes-free life.