According to the American Diabetes Association, in the United States, about 8.3% of the total population has some form of diabetes. That means about 25.8 million Americans are diagnosed with this metabolic disorder. As I have gotten older, the number of Americans in the U.S. has been increasing at an alarming rate. In 1991 about 6.9 million Americans were diagnosed diabetics. That number has nearly quadrupled in size from 1991 to now. This alone is very alarming, but if you also take into account the cost of controlling diabetes, the health complications, and now the increasing rate of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), it appears that this epidemic must be addressed more in our society.
There are three different types of diabetes: type I, type II, and gestational. The most prevalent is type II diabetes, and occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body begin to resist the insulin the body produces.
A lot of research has been looking at any correlation between type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, and the research has been proving to show that there may indeed be a relationship. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease where things called amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles build up in the brain, causing neurons to die and leading to impaired memory and cognitive dysfunction. Due to the decrease in insulin within the brain, or the increase in insulin resistance, insulin is unable to properly carry out its functions. This can lead to Tau hyperphosphorylation and neurofibrillary tangles along with amyloid beta plaque formation, all of which are the cause of AD.
Above is a figure showing how both type 1 and type II diabetes can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Note how not just type II can be a risk to AD.
What is so unfortunate about this relationship between AD and Type II diabetes is that with the increasing numbers of diabetes in the United States, there will also be an enormous increase in AD, especially in the future. The chances of someone getting AD increases as we get older, and if one also has type II diabetes, the chances of having AD becomes a scary number. So then, the next question is how do we help prevent AD, or even diabetes to occur? Insulin may be the answer. Insulin injections are great regulators for people with diabetes, and are already being used as treatment. However, this only stops the symptoms, and is not a cure.
So what are the true keys to helping battle diabetes, preventing diabetes, and lowering the chances of getting AD? They are exercise, a healthy diet, and education. We’ve been hearing it since elementary school, and many of us still don’t recognize these three important things. Exercise not only helps with blood sugar, but also is healthy for our whole body. A healthy diet seems like a difficult option in today’s society, and I agree, but it’s definitely doable. Finally, being educated on how to keep your body healthy and learning more about what we eat can go a long way in helping how we shop at the grocery store. It seems like a hard task that may empty out the pocket, and I won’t deny that that may be a possibility. But one must weigh the risks, and I believe that living a healthy lifestyle will definitely be worth every penny.