You’ve probably heard the old saying “bad things come in threes.” And after nearly a century of research, it appears that may be the case with diabetes.
You’re likely familiar with Type I and Type II diabetes. But now it looks like there’s yet another form on the horizon—Type III diabetes. And it may be the most sinister, dangerous form of the disease yet.
A modern-day disaster 90 years in the making
For centuries diabetes had been known primarily as a condition of excess fluid loss through frequent urination, with sugar in the urine.
But in 1922, two researchers won a Nobel prize when they discovered that diabetes mellitus was a primary deficiency of insulin. Insulin is responsible for moving glucose (sugar) from the blood into the tissues. Without it, the tissues, including the brain, literally starve to death in a sea of plenty.
Since then, there have been many more discoveries regarding this condition. Like the difference between Type I and Type II diabetes.
The Nobel-prize winning researchers discovered what has come to be known as Type I (or “juvenile”) diabetes. With Type I, from childhood, the pancreas simply does not make insulin. Type I diabetes is treatable by injecting synthetic insulin over regular time intervals.
But as the 20th century progressed, an initially mysterious new type of diabetes emerged. People with this form of the disease produce adequate insulin. But their tissues become resistant to the actions of that insulin. And, as a result, glucose can’t enter the tissues. Instead, it accumulates in the blood. This “insulin-resistant” diabetes became known as Type II diabetes.
Now, I believe we are witnessing a third form of the disease—Type III diabetes. And it may have been masquerading as the No. 1 medical mystery of our time—the modern misery of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Elevated blood sugar shrinks your brainA recent Australian study found that high blood sugar levels appear to actually cause the brain to shrink.1
Even in people who don’t have Type I or Type II diabetes.
This study of 250 men and women showed that high blood sugar levels appear to damage the brain. Specifically, they cause the areas associated with memory, cognitive function, and emotional processing to shrink. And impairments in these areas are the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer’s dementia.
In fact, these researchers found that highly-educated people in their 60s, with even mildly elevated blood sugar, had the brains of unhealthy people in their 70s.
While prior studies have shown that diabetics have higher rates of dementia, this is the first study to show these effects even in people who are not diagnosed as having Type I or Type II diabetes. So, are they suffering from Type III diabetes?
In non-Type I or -Type II diabetics, high blood sugar can result not only from consuming too much sugar in the diet, but from generally poor diet, lack of exercise, and chronic stress. So, blood sugar is a problem for everyone, not just diabetics. And now we’re seeing just how significantly it can affect your brain (as well as other parts of your body).
I first heard about this link last September, and have been looking into it ever since. And, indeed, a large body of evidence is now suggesting that Alzheimer’s is primarily a metabolic disease, just like diabetes. But different enough from the already well-known Types I and II to warrant its own classification. Type III diabetes.
Why your brain needs insulin
As I mentioned above, an association between Alzheimer’s dementia and Type II diabetes is already long-established. In fact, the risk of dementia among Type II diabetics is two to three times higher than in the general population. There are also associations between Alzheimer’s and obesity, and Alzheimer’s and metabolic syndrome (a pattern of diet- and metabolic- related disorders).
Some researchers first proposed that Alzheimer’s was actually another form of diabetes back in 2005.2 The authors of these original studies investigated the brains of people who had died of dementia. They found that the levels of both insulin and insulin- like growth factors in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients were sharply reduced. And insulin levels were lowest in the parts of the brain that appeared most affected by dementia.
Insulin in the brain has a number of important functions in addition to glucose metabolism. It helps regulate transmission of signals from one neuron (nerve cell) to another. And it influences their growth as well as their ability to adapt to changes and survive.
Experiments conducted since then appear to support the link between diet and dementia. As ever, these observations show the biochemistry of dementia to be fantastically complex, involving inflammation, stress, oxidation, the accumulation of a certain brain protein and the transformation of another—among other factors. This is one case where more research does, in fact, need to be done. And this is the kind of research that NIH should really be doing.
However, if current indications hold true, Alzheimer’s disease could be yet another catastrophic impact of poor diets.
Perhaps one of the worst thus farAround 35 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease worldwide and based on current projections, with the rate at which the population is aging, this epidemic will rise to 100 million by 2050.
But if, as many scientists now believe, it is caused largely by the brain’s impaired response to insulin, those numbers could rise much further. In the U.S., the percentage of the population with Type II diabetes has almost tripled in just 30 years.
If Alzheimer’s dementia—Type III diabetes—acts the same way, the potential for more human suffering is immense.
But while U.S. government research on Alzheimer’s flounders around, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family now. In fact, there are some exceptionally effective tools for combating this burgeoning epidemic.
Starting with one that I’m particularly excited about.
The latest blood-sugar darling tackles Alzheimer’s, too
Berberine is quickly becoming one of the new “darlings” of the nutritional medicine world. And the “buzz” has focused largely on this herbal remedy’s ability to balance blood sugar and combat diabetes. But the new research on berberine that caught my eye recently had nothing to do with blood sugar or diabetes—or so I initially thought.
Several new studies have shown impressive results using berberine for Alzheimer’s. 3,4,5
But now that Alzheimer’s is emerging as Type III diabetes, the link between these two fields of research on berberine makes perfect sense.
But berberine defends against Alzheimer’s not only by helping to regulate blood sugar.
3-tiered brain protection you won’t find anywhere else
New experimental results have found that berberine protects the brain in at least three more distinct ways:
1. It can safeguard your brain from the dangerous oxidation damage that can “eat away” at brain tissue.
2. It targets and destroys memory- killing enzymes that have long been considered key in the development of Alzheimer’s.
3. It promotes healthy blood flow directly to the brain—an essential element to conquering dementia.
Berberine also seems to be able to block certain nerve receptors, which may partly explain its anti-Alzheimer and neurotransmitter-modulating properties.
Add these specific actions to berberine’s well-established blood sugar benefits and it appears that this herb may hold the key to preventing and even slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (Type III diabetes) like nothing before it.
I recommend 500 mg per day, taken over the course of two or three doses to achieve a steady state.
The first step in avoiding and managing ANY type of diabetes
Of course, no discussion of metabolic disorders is complete without addressing the importance of diet.
The food industry engineers its products to bypass the neurological signals that would otherwise prompt people to stop eating. Filling them with unhealthy fats, sugars, and high fructose corn syrup. Essentially ensuring they’re completely devoid of any real nutrients. Which makes processed, packaged foods a disaster not just for your waistline, but also for your blood sugar, your brain—and your health in general.
Cutting out overly processed foods should be the first step in avoiding— or treating—ANY disease, including diabetes (Types I, II, and III).
For many more natural approaches to preventing and treating dementia, refer back to the special report
The Insider’s Answer for Dodging Dementia, which you received with your subscription to Insiders’ Cures.
1 “Higher normal fasting plasma glucose is associated with hippocampal atrophy: The PATH Study,” Neurology 2012; 79:1,019-1,026
2 “Impaired insulin and insulin-like growth factor expression and signaling mechanisms in Alzheimer’s disease—is this type 3 diabetes?” J Alzheimers Dis 2005; 7(1): 63–80
3 “Berberine: A potential multipotent natural product to combat Alzheimer’s Disease,” Molecules 2011; 16: 6,732-6,740
4 “Oren-gedoku-to and its Constituents with Therapeutic Potential in Alzheimer’s Disease Inhibit Indoleamine 2, 3-Dioxygenase Activity In Vitro,” J Alzheimers Dis 2010; 22(1):257-66
5 Molecular Basis of Inhibitory Activities of Berberine against Pathogenic Enzymes in Alzheimer’s Disease,” The Scientific World Journal vol. 2012, Article ID 823201 (doi:10.1100/2012/823201)