Understanding Diabetes Risks

In people who don’t have diabetes, blood glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day in relation to the types and amounts of food that are consumed. Diets that contain more sugar and foods that are rapidly broken down into glucose cause blood glucose levels to rise. When this happens, the body’s response is to release more insulin. The greater the rise in blood glucose, the higher the insulin goes.

Problems arise when “spikes,” or dramatic rises, in the level of insulin occur. They can produce subsequent periods of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) because the insulin stays in the bloodstream longer than glucose, and it subsequently tends to drive glucose levels below normal. If these swings are mild, you might only feel hungry. When they are more severe, it is not uncommon to feel shaky or jittery or to develop brain fog and not think clearly. When insulin levels are persistently elevated, or in people with blood sugar regulating problems, brain problems can be even more severe, also you should be carefull with the risks of high blood pressure.

What we eat determines how much insulin is released. In diabetics, who can’t make any insulin needs to take several daily insulin injections. They need to guess how much glucose-rich (meaning carbohydrate-containing) food will be consumed at a given meal and then calculate how much insulin to inject to “cover” the expected rise in blood sugar the meal will produce. If insufficient insulin is administered, blood glucose levels remain elevated. If too much is given, glucose levels fall, sometimes so low that they cause the type of symptoms many people experienced.

Less dramatic swings in blood sugar can occur in people who don’t have diabetes. They are usually caused by sugar binges followed shortly thereafter by a large insulin spike. However, as is evident, too much insulin — whether injected or in conjunction with poor dietary choices — can contribute to brain starvation.

Effect of Elevated Insulin on the Brain

When insulin levels are high, glucose (the brain’s main fuel) is directed away from the brain and into other tissues, such as muscle. As was discussed previously, persistently elevated insulin also keeps fat locked in fat cells. This combination makes us fat and starves our brains by diverting nutrients away from neurons and into other cells for storage. While swings in insulin might not be as dramatic in non-diabetic individuals, they occur nonetheless, and can make us hungry and contribute to brain aging and even more ominous problems.

This is easily demonstrated by looking at statistics relating disorders of glucose and insulin metabolism to the incidence of the major neurodegenerative disorder being seen throughout the world — Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetics have four times the risk for developing Alzheimer’s; those with pre diabetes have triple the risk, and persons with pre prediabetes (meaning that their blood sugar is normal all the time, but they have to work harder to control it by releasing more insulin throughout the day) have double the risk. These are a few of the reasons why many brain scientists around the world are beginning to refer to Alzheimer’s disease as Type 3 diabetes. In Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there is an inability to efficiently use glucose throughout the body. Type 3 diabetes refers to the same problem in the brain — with the ominous consequences just discussed.

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Mary is a professional blogger that loves to write about health and diets.

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