Prevent Type 3 Diabetes
The term type 3 diabetes has been gaining traction in recent years, but what is it and how do you prevent type 3 diabetes?
Type 3 diabetes refers to cognitive decline such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease brought about by the effects that too much sugar consumption can have on the body. Typically such cognitive decline is more prevalent among people who are diabetic and have been dealing with type 2 diabetes. Hence the name type 3 diabetes has been used as an extension of the family of symptoms that sufferers of type 2 diabetes can experience when cognitive function is affected.
So what is the linkage between the two and what do you need to do to prevent type 3 diabetes.
The Insulin Link between Type 2 and Type 3 Diabetes
A recent study from January 2017  looked at the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and compared them to the brains of similarly aged control subjects without AD. The results showed evidence of reduced expression of insulin and neuronal insulin receptors in the patients with AD. This reduction leads to a breakdown of the entire insulin-signaling pathway resulting in insulin resistance. As the authors of this study state:-
This in turn affects brain metabolism and cognitive functions, which are the best-documented abnormalities in AD. These observations led Dr. de la Monte and her colleagues to suggest that AD is actually a neuroendocrine disorder that resembles type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The authors also stated that:-
Now it is known as “brain diabetes” and is called type 3 diabetes mellitus (T3DM).
Cognitive Decline is Under Diagnosed
Another study from November 2016  set out to show that cognitive disorders among type 2 diabetics was under diagnosed due to infrequent testing. They assessed 30 diabetics aged over 50 and compared them with non-diabetic cognitively normal control subjects, and also with a third group of non-diabetic subjects with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Standardised cognitive assessment and diagnosis tests were used on all the participants.
The results showed that 40% of the diabetic group were newly diagnosed with a cognitive disorder (10% with dementia and 30% with MCI). Diabetic subjects performed worse on all the tests except compared against the non-diabetic MCI group (amnestic type) when tested for tasks of immediate and delayed recall. The study authors concluded:-
Undiagnosed cognitive disorders are common and underappreciated in patients being treated in a specialized diabetes clinic. It may be important to make cognitive assessment a standard part of patient assessments.
This is a pretty shocking result that 40% of this patient population with diabetes did not know that they had a form of cognitive disorder. Just extrapolate this to the wider population of diabetics and we are literally faced with an epidemic of cognitive disorders, which go undiagnosed and untreated and will only increase in severity.
How to Prevent Type 3 Diabetes
After reading the above, it will come as no shock to you to know that the best way to prevent type 3 diabetes, and suffering from cognitive decline, is not to have type 2 diabetes and, if you do, to take steps to correct this endocrine imbalance in your body. With appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes the vast majority of sufferers could be free of medication eventually or at the very least reduce their dosage and have better control over blood sugar levels. This post on Diabetes may interest you.
But you may be thinking, “Since I am not diabetic, I will avoid type 3 diabetes and associated cognitive decline.” This could be true if you have good blood sugar control and generally minimise your sugar intact from all sources (not just added sugar). If you have been reading recent posts, you will know that even non-diabetics at the higher end of the normal fasting blood sugar range have increased brain shrinkage and decreased cognitive performance than people with lower normal blood sugar levels – see What is the Best Fasting Blood Sugar Level.
So the short answer to how to prevent type 3 diabetes is simply to
- reduce your sugar intake from all sources ie all carbohydrates (breads, cakes, biscuits, pasta, grains, starchy vegetables etc), fizzy drinks, fruit juices (unless you juice the whole fruit together with the fibre), alcohol and
- increase your intake of plant based foods and pure filtered or spring water.
Now we certainly are not going to pretend that this is easy because to a greater or lesser extent we all have a sugar addiction. Sounds scary, but think about it for a minute or two and ask yourself how many obviously sweet tasting things do you eat or drink every day – you get the picture.
But if you are serious and want to prevent type 3 diabetes and cognitive decline, there is no better time to start than the present. The trick is just to make one or two small changes at a time, allow these to become habits and then add in the next changes. More on this in coming articles.
To your cognitive health, Edith and Tim at CoolWellbeing Foundation