Updated: Jun 25
No that's not a typo. It's a real thing.
Let us recap the classified diabetes types:
There are two: Type 1 and 2. Both are chronic diseases that relate to a glucose dysfunction.
With Type 1 diabetes, the beta cells in the pancreas do not produce insulin (the hormone necessary to regulate your blood sugar).
With Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is producing sufficient insulin BUT the body's cells have become increasingly resistant to it and does not respond well to it any longer.
Both types can result in excessively high blood sugar levels, a condition that can be fatal.
The difference is that people with type 2 diabetes can often heal themselves (or at least reduce their symptoms and treatment) through specific supplementation and diet whereas with Type 1 being an auto-immune condition, the person has to rely on insulin injections for the rest of their lives (although diet plays a key role in how this is managed).
The latest studies have indicated a strong relationship between systemic insulin resistance and higher incidence of neurodegeneration, dementia, and mild cognitive impairment; also known as Type 3 diabetes.
Although this classification is not yet widely accepted by mainstream allopathic medicine, it is called diabetes 3 because it is linked to insulin resistance in the brain. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/).
Some of the most relevant data supporting this concept have emerged from clinical studies demonstrating cognitive improvement and/or stabilization of cognitive impairment in subjects with early Alzheimer's Disease following treatment with intranasal insulin or a PPAR agonist (drugs that activate specific proteins in the body).
Yes you read correctly. Your brain can suffer from insulin resistance (in fact all your organs can be resistant to this hormone in varying degrees).
Studies show that people already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have a 60% chance of developing dementia (https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/39/2/300); and women specifically have a higher chance than men of developing vascular dementia. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4722942/)
The increased risk of dementia in people with type 2 diabetes could be linked to chronic high blood sugar levels, being overweight (specifically abdominal fat), peripheral insulin resistance (in the fingers and toes), oxidative stress (including the accumulation of advanced glycation end products), increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and orcerebral microvascular disease. (RA Whitmer: Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2007 Sep; 7(5):373-80).
Furthermore an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) study demonstrated that older adults with type 2 diabetes have a moderately increased risk for developing lacunes (these are areas where the blood flow to small parts of the brain has been blocked) as well as hippocampal wasting (the hippocampus is the learning and memory centre of the brain).
Where it all goes wrong - Insulin Resistance.
What exactly is insulin resistance? One of insulin’s jobs is to help move glucose from the blood into the cells for energy. When blood glucose remains elevated despite normal or high levels of insulin, this is called insulin resistance.
Most of us understand insulin resistance as relating to muscle tissue; however the liver, fat cells and the brain may also develop insulin resistance.. New investigations indicate that the endothelial cell itself can be insulin-resistant which results in reduced blood flow and increased peripheral resistance (hence the reduced blood flow to extremities such as fingers and toes)..
The fact of the matter is that you needn't develop Type 2 diabetes to be at risk for developing dementia. In fact there are many people out there that have Alzheimer's but do not have type 2 diabetes.
What is the common link?
The precursor to type 2 diabetes is chronic insulin resistance; in fact there are many people who are insulin resistant to varying degrees and are none the wiser. Some will go on to develop type 2 diabetes whilst others will always remain sub-clinical (which means that they will not develop full blown diabetes).
This condition is termed 'pre-diabetes' and can often be even more dangerous due to the fact that people do not know that they have it and unless their lifestyle is adjusted will continue down the slippery slope to chronic disease.
It is quite common for some people to have relatively normal blood sugar levels (even their glycated haemoglobin test HbA1C, which tests average blood sugar over the past 60-90 days) shows to be within the 'normal' range but their insulin levels are sky high.
The two typically go hand in hand, when blood sugar is high then insulin is high. But there are cases where the fasting blood glucose may be within 'normal' parameters but their fasting insulin level is very high!
And of course very few doctors test insulin independently of blood sugar because they assume that if your blood sugar is normal then your insulin must be too.
Yet there is plenty evidence to the contrary coming to light. High or elevated insulin levels can be seen with other medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as well as other insulin producing tumours, Cushing syndrome, fructose intolerance and some medications (corticosteroids being one).
There are also foods that raise insulin without raising blood sugar (dairy is one of the main culprits).
What are the symptoms of insulin resistance?
The most common indication that you may be insulin resistant is stubborn fat deposits on the abdomen often backed up by a high waist to hip ratio.
This is calculated as waist measurement divided by hip measurement (W ÷ H). For example, a person with a 76 cm waist and 97 cm hips has a waist-hip ratio of about 0.78.
The world health organisation states that a waist-hip ratio above 0.90 for males and above 0.85 for females is classified as abdominal obesity and should be considered as a red flag,
Other indications are a high HDL-Cholesterol/triglyceride ratio, low serum levels of HDL-C (a signal of defective reverse cholesterol transport), low Vitamin D3 levels as well as possible high blood pressure.
You may find that you have none of the above lab markers or perhaps only one or two. However a high waist to hip level remains the most consistent indicator to assess insulin resistance in normal weight women without type 2 diabetes.
Other more obscure symptoms are related to the skin. Although the exact mechanism is unclear, certain types of skin lesions are directly related to insulin resistance. Acanthosis nigricans is a cosmetic condition in which the skin darkens and thickens in creased areas (armpits, neck and groin).
Skin tags are also more likely to be found in people with insulin resistance. This is when a piece of skin projects from the surrounding skin.
The fact remains that insulin resistance should be viewed as a dysfunction in its own right and not just as an indicator of diabetes or as one of the symptoms involved in Metabolic Syndrome. It is a serious condition which should not be ignored.
If your blood glucose remains 'normal' despite your failing health, insist on having your fasting insulin tested.
This is your body, don't put yourself at risk of developing dementia. By taking action you can holt the progression of insulin resistance and even reverse any negative symptoms.
This is your chance to take your health back into your own hands.