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Fighting Insulin-Resistance Fights Dementia

DIET RESEARCH: Learn how diet, exercise and watching your weight will prevent insulin-resistance, and as a result, protect your brain.
Memory is particularly vulnerable to the effects of insulin resistance, according to a 20-year study.


A Tel Aviv University study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that insulin resistance, caused in part by obesity and physical inactivity, is also linked to a more rapid decline in cognitive performance. According to the research, both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects with insulin resistance experienced accelerated cognitive decline in executive function and memory.

A two-decade study

The study was led jointly by Prof. David Tanne and Prof. Uri Goldbourt and conducted by Dr. Miri Lutski, all of TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine.

“These are exciting findings because they may help to identify a group of individuals at increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older age,” says Prof. Tanne. “We know that insulin resistance can be prevented and treated by lifestyle changes and certain insulin-sensitizing drugs. Exercising, maintaining a balanced and healthy diet, and watching your weight will help you prevent insulin resistance and, as a result, protect your brain as you get older.”

Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin. The resistance prevents muscle, fat, and liver cells from easily absorbing glucose.

As a result, the body requires higher levels of insulin to usher glucose into its cells. Without sufficient insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to prediabetes, diabetes, and other serious health disorders.

500 People

The scientists followed a group of nearly 500 patients with existing cardiovascular disease for more than two decades. They first assessed the patients’ baseline insulin resistance using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA), calculated using fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. Cognitive functions were assessed with a computerized battery of tests that examined memory, executive function, visual spatial processing, and attention. The follow-up assessments were conducted 15 years after the start of the study, then again five years after that.

The study found that individuals who placed in the top quarter of the HOMA index were at an increased risk for poor cognitive performance and accelerated cognitive decline compared to those in the remaining three-quarters of the HOMA index. Adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors and potentially confounding factors did not diminish these associations.

“This study lends support for more research to test the cognitive benefits of interventions such as exercise, diet, and medications that improve insulin resistance in order to prevent dementia,” says Prof. Tanne. The team is currently studying the vascular and non-vascular mechanisms by which insulin resistance may affect cognition.

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Mrs T.
Mrs T.
May 3, 2017 5:27 am

I heard that long-term use of insulin causes brain damage? My husband is insulin dependent 4x a day. Has normal pressure hydrocephalus, since 2014, age 70 now,and has a VP SHUNT

rosalynchauvin
rosalynchauvin
September 30, 2018 4:37 pm

I have dementia and had very out of control type 2 diabetes with an A1C of 10.2. Once I started working very hard to get that 10.2 down to a current 6.9 my cognitive decline slowed down and my memory, thinking, and executive function are much better. I am also now on Razadyne (galantamine)and it seems the combination of reducing my A1C and taking Razadyne have given me back some of the capabilities I felt I had lost.

B. Berger

B. Berger

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This site was inspired by my Mom’s autoimmune dementia.

It is a place where we separate out the wheat from the chaffe, the important articles & videos from each week’s river of news. With a new post on Alzheimer’s or dementia appearing on the internet every 7 minutes, the site’s focus on the best information has been a help to many over the past 15 years. Thanks to our many subscribers for your supportive feedback.

The site is dedicated to all those preserving the dignity of the community of people living with dementia.

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