It is amazing how, in the search for longevity, one finds a very logical conclusion: if you want to live longer, do what it takes to avoid disease. This may seem like a no-brainer, but we often put the cart before the horse. We wait until we have a disease, then try to fight it in order to live longer.
A smoother road to longevity is paved by avoiding disease in the first place. This blog already points to insulin imbalance as the root to the killer Diabetes, but it turns out insulin imbalance may also be responsible for cancer growth and even Alzheimer’s—two other major killers in our current understanding of human health.
I have been researching the connection between Alzheimer’s disease (a disease associated with aging) and Diabetes in an effort to understand the possible causes of my mother’s dementia and to see if I can help stem or even reverse her mental decline.
In the course of this research, I found ample evidence for a connection between Alzheimer’s and the same insulin issues related to Diabetes. Here are some examples:
From the Mayo Clinic:
Many people who have Alzheimer's disease also have a condition called prediabetes, in which their bodies have become resistant to insulin, a hormone necessary for cells to absorb glucose.From the USC Health Magazine:
Brain insulin disappears early and dramatically in Alzheimer’s disease. And many of the unexplained features of Alzheimer’s, such as cell death and tangles in the brain, appear to be linked to abnormalities in insulin signaling in the brain.And a piece on Diabetes of the Brain
Proper insulin function in the brain appears necessary to the formation and maintenance of memories. And, crucially, a lack of insulin or insulin resistance is connected both to amyloid protein regulation and to the modification of tau proteins, which can cause tangles.You can read these articles and more for further details on the connection between insulin and Alzheimers.
Bringing this knowledge home, a recent development in my mother’s condition makes me wonder if we accidentally aided her cognitive improvement by unknowingly targeting the insulin levels in her body.
Because my mother suffered most of her adult life from recurring bladder infections, we decided to cut her sugar intake as much as possible in hopes of reducing these infections. Also, because my mother was so frail, we wanted to boost her caloric and nutritive intake. The product that fit both these purposes was Glucerna—a supplement developed specifically for people with diabetes (read the science behind Glucerna).
We have been giving Mom a Glucerna shake every morning at the start of her day. This has been going on for almost three years. Today Mom is showing not only a stabilization of her previous cognitive decline, but noticeable improvement, as listed in my post on Alzheimer’s and Regression.
Of course I find this amazing and beyond hopeful. And though anecdotal evidence is not scientific proof, given the scientifically proven link between insulin and Alzheimer’s Disease, it is worth looking into the practical solutions to insulin imbalance as a means of preventing the cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s and ultimately, of a shortened lifespan.
Here are some more tips on insulin management from the archives:
Aging Mind over on her blog.