Insulin is an important hormone that regulates glucose in the body. People with type 1 diabetes don’t make insulin, and people with type 2 diabetes often have insulin resistance, in which their bodies are not receptive to insulin.
In the past it was thought that insulin had no effect on the brain because it couldn’t pass through the blood-brain barrier. But new findings reveal that insulin has quite an effect on the brain, and can even lead to mild cognitive impairment, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes, among other problems.
Here’s what you need to know about insulin and the brain.
Top 10 connections between insulin and the brain
- Sugar consumption overall has increased exponentially in the U.S., with Americans consuming 2-3 pounds of sugar per week. The brain can react to excess sugar as if it were a virus or bacteria.
- The more sugar one consumes, the more insulin the body produces, leading to unhealthy glucose levels, stress hormones, fatigue, and lack of energy for up to 5 hours after consumption.
- Researchers found that the hippocampus, the brain’s memory center, relies on insulin to form memories.
- Other studies are exploring how insulin actually regulates memory.
- Type 2 diabetes is one of the greatest risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Researchers are still working on discovering the causes and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Insulin is a “growth factor” which helps cells, including brain cells, to grow and thrive.
- Without enough insulin, the brain has less ability to repair damages and is vulnerable to stress.
- Because of the close connection between type 2 and Alzheimer’s, some scientists believe that diabetes drugs could be effective in treating Alzheimer’s as well as Parkinson’s.
- In addition to diabetes drugs, exercise and a healthy diet are proven ways to increase insulin resistance.
What you can do
Prevent cognitive decline before it’s too late. Understand the connection between blood sugar, insulin, type 2, and Alzheimer’s, make the lifestyle changes you need to, and follow your doctor’s plan for managing blood sugar levels.