Alzheimer’s = Type 3 Diabetes

November 1, 2012

By Anna Varriano

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I just finished reading an article entitled “Prepare Yourself for Type 3 Diabetes” (Alternatives; Vol 15; No 11, Nov 2012). Upon reading the title, I thought: “Yikes! We don’t even have a handle on Type 2 diabetes, and now there’s a Type 3?”

Before I go any further, here’s a quick description of Type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Type 1: Generally occurs before age 30. Caused by destruction of the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, resulting in little or no circulating insulin. Insulin must be taken daily.

Type 2: Generally occurs after age 30 (aka Adult Onset Diabetes. Sadly, we are seeing earlier onset, with Type 2 diabetes becoming a childhood disease). Cause is strongly associated with being overweight and/or inactive. Does not involve destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic cells; instead, body tissue cells become resistant to insulin (i.e. they no longer respond to insulin).

I recently listened to an interview that stated that there has been a 1,000% increase in Type 2 diabetes in children in the last generation. Why on earth is this happening, and what can be done about it?

One obvious cause is the incredible increase in sugar consumption. In the 1800s, sugar consumption was 10 pounds per person per year. Today, it’s 180 pounds per person per year.

When most of us think ‘sugar’, we think of common white table sugar, and probably things like cookies, cakes, desserts, candy, chocolate bars/candy bars, and soda pop. That may have been pretty bang on thinking in the past, but it goes way beyond that today. Think fruit juices and cocktails, beer, wine, hard liquor, flavoured and sweetened yogurt and yogurt drinks, ketchup (and most other condiments for that matter), salad dressings, pasta and pasta sauces, breads, crackers, cereal and granola bars…you name it!

Start reading the labels of the packaged foods that you purchase, and you’ll likely discover that sugar is listed as an ingredient at least once – and likely multiple times – as there are so many forms of sugar being used now: corn syrup, rice syrup, agave syrup, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin, barley malt, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, mannitol, glucose-fructose, high fructose corn syrup (the WORST offender), blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! The list goes on and on – and artificial sweeteners are NOT the answer. I’m not saying that you can never eat or drink anything with sugar in it ever again, but chances are most of us should be cutting back a little…or maybe a lot. Check out http://www.sugarstacks.com for some very interesting pictures that show how much sugar is in some of the most popular brands of packaged foods/snacks, and drinks. Prepare to be shocked!

Why does any of this matter? Sugar is increasingly being identified as one of the most powerful causes of inflammation in the body – and inflammation is at the root of most (if not all) diseases, including cancers and cardiovascular diseases. As the numerous negative health effects of sugar is such an important topic to understand, I will be giving a workshop on it in the New Year (stay tuned for details).

I believe that Type 2 diabetes is reversible, and there is a lot of clinical evidence emerging to support this (there are even claims that Type 1 diabetes is reversible).

Now…let me get back to the article about Type 3 Diabetes. After it covers the frightening stats regarding the increase in Type 2 diabetes, especially among children, the following question appears: Alzheimer’s = Type 3 Diabetes?

That’s when the title started to make sense to me, because for several years, some research has hinted at a link between Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes, and apparently, this link is getting stronger, with some researchers stating that Alzheimer’s is in fact a form of diabetes.

I’m guessing that your life or the life of someone you know, has been touched by Alzheimer’s in some way. It is estimated that the disease currently affects 1 in 8 Americans over age 65. That number is poised to explode as baby boomers hit that age bracket, especially if the incidence of a potentially significant risk factor – Type 2 diabetes – continues to grow. It has become the most common form of dementia, and has made its way into the Top 10 List of ‘Leading Causes of Death’ (for both men and women) in North America. The health costs associated with this disease are unbelievable. When you consider the value of hours provided by both paid and unpaid caregivers, the Alternative’s article states that estimated costs from 2010 to 2050 will exceed $20 trillion. Sadly, the current thinking is that Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed down.

I don’t buy in to that thinking – and it’s not just because of the news story of how Dr. Mary Newport reversed her husband’s Alzheimer’s by feeding him coconut oil every day – although that is a pretty amazing story, especially for a crazy coconut lady like me (here’s a link to the news story if you haven’ t seen it yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZOR-Qd3QSg

The reason I don’t buy in to that thinking is because while research shows that there is a strong link between Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s, research also shows that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and reversed. So, doesn’t it make sense that Alzheimer’s can be prevented if we take action to prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes? Sounds reasonable to me.

What action should we take you ask? In addition to showing you all the reasons why it’s so very important to keep blood sugar and insulin levels balanced for overall health and well- being, the workshop that I’ll be giving in the New Year will also give you practical tips and tools to help you do so; but here are five things that I would like you to start giving some attention to right now – after all, it is Diabetes Awareness Month:

  • Avoid sugared drinks (e.g. soda pops, fruit juices, sports drinks, vitamin drinks, lattes, ice coffees, frappucinos, sweetened milk alternatives such as sweetened almond and rice milks). Drink water instead (filtered if possible). Add a splash of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice for a refreshing taste. Try some herbal teas too.
  • Cut back on grain products, in particular those made with refined flours and added sugars.
  • Read the labels of all packaged goods and avoid them if sugar (in any form) is listed in the first half of the ingredient list, and/or is listed multiple times (in any form). Absolutely avoid all packaged goods containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is proving to be very nasty stuff. And remember, you don’t have to read the ingredient label on a head of broccoli, or a bunch of carrots, or an apple. :o)
  • Get some activity into your day. Even if it’s just a 10 or 15 minute walk, it’s a start! Physical activity makes our cells more responsive to insulin.
  • Supplement daily with a good quality omega-3 fish oil or krill oil. Like physical activity, omega-3 fatty acids also make our cells more responsive to insulin.

Remember, we are blessed with bodies that strive to heal and that strive for optimal health. When we get a cut – it heals. When we break a bone – it heals. When we catch a cold or a flu– we get over it. The body will always try to heal and repair itself as long as we listen to it, respect it, and provide it with the right building blocks it needs to do so – and sugar isn’t one of them.

Take control of what you can.

Yours in health,

Anna

References

  1. Alternatives Vol 15; No 11; Nov 2012
  2. Sugar: The Bitter Truth; Dr. Robert Lustig
  3. Overcoming Diabesity to Achieve Wellness; The Future of Health Now (interview with Dr. Mark Hyman)
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