Insulin Resistance and Reaction to Alzheimer’s Disease and Diabetes

Introduction and research summary

This research paper covers the effects of the insulin resistance to the reaction of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. It covers diabetes as the risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms of diabetes, and misdiagnoses of diabetes. The lifestyle factors which are known to reduce Alzheimer’s disease are discussed and the relationship among the diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia is explained. Several solutions of these diseases are discussed and how they can be detected during their early stages so as to receive medical attention as early as possible.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas in the body. When a body produces insulin and it is not utilized fully, a condition well known as insulin resistance is created. The body uses insulin to utilize glucose in order to produce the energy that the body uses (Vellas & Winblad, 2003, p.135). Insulin is released when the blood sugar increases after digestion so as to help the body to take in the glucose and use it.

Some parts of the body are supposed to respond positively to the release of the insulin. These are the muscles and liver cells but to the people who are suffering from insulin resistance condition, these parts do not respond properly (Vellas & Winblad, 2003, p.140). For their cells to take in the blood sugar, they demand a greater quantity of insulin. This causes the pancreas to struggle to release more insulin so as to match with the demands. However, in most cases the pancreas does not succeed in meeting these demands, hence leading to excessive accumulation of blood sugar in the blood streams as well as insulin.

Effects of insulin resistance

The excessive blood glucose in the blood stream is an initial stage for diabetes. The insulin resistance condition can also lead to heart disease, according to Vellas (2000) the other type of diabetes and finally destruction of the heart and major blood vessels. Most of the research done suggest that insulin resistance condition is borne by lack of body exercise and excess weight (Vellas & Winblad, 2003, p.150). People who are suffering from this condition are also in likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular disease.

Insulin resistance condition is believed to have several causes one of them being genetic factors, whereby there is inheritance of infected genes from one generation to the other. Some medications prescribed to a patient may also be a cause of insulin resistance. There are other body circumstances which can lead to this condition, like someone suffering from obesity, being pregnant, undergoing stressful moments, stern sickness and metabolic syndrome. (Salk Institute, 2008, p.250).

Insulin resistance leads to some other healthy conditions in the body due to the deposited fat in the liver according to Nicolls (2004) such as fatty liver which develops to cirrhosis of the liver and finally cancer of the liver. These conditions may be mild or chronic (Salk Institute, 2008, p.257). The high levels of the insulin in the blood streams may lead to growth abnormalities. There is a group of people who are vulnerable to the insulin resistance condition, and include people with more than 25 body mass index, any man or a woman with a waist line of or more than 40 and 35 inches respectively, people who are more than 41 years of age, people with high blood pressure and people from a family history of members with type 2 diabetes (Chau & Edelman, 2001, p.173). The individuals who are likely to have an insulin resistance can well be identified by a physician through a thorough patient history and his/her physical and laboratory examination.

There are ways in which the insulin resistance can be handled which include lowering the increased need of the insulin, or increasing the cells reaction to insulin. Insulin resistance can be reduced by changing the eating habits (Chau & Edelman, 2001, p.174). There are some types of carbohydrates like white breads and chips which are absorbed by the body so fast. When they are absorbed, the amount of the sugar in the blood increases demanding for more secretion of the insulin.

These types of carbohydrates should be avoided by people suffering from insulin resistance. The patients are advised to enrich their diets with the carbohydrates which have low glycemic index like brown rice, and whole grain cereals, as well as non starchy vegetables like greens (Salk Institute, 2008, p.98). Arteriosclerosis is a condition whereby the walls of the arteries become clogged by the cholesterol and with time the flow along the arteries may be completely stopped. Its real cause is not known but it’s suggested to be highly related to some conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and high levels of cholesterol (Nicolls, 2004, p.50). The folded parts of the skin may become thick and dark a condition called skin lesion. In women, some reproductive abnormalities may develop, which is not common with men who are suffering from insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain problem whereby the brain tissues become non functional leading to loss of memory as well as mental disabilities. According to a present study done, it has been shown that Alzheimer’s disease may be borne by insulin resistance condition when it combines with other risk factors (Mendelson, 2008, p.102). An in depth and wide research is required to clarify how the condition of insulin resistance interferes with other risk factors and biochemical abnormalities to result to Alzheimer’s disease (Bertram, et al., 2000, p.2202).

People become vulnerable to this condition as they age though it can not be considered as a part of normal aging. Almost ½ of the people above 86 years of age are victims of Alzheimer’s. This condition does not have a known cure but special treatment by a qualified physician can help the sick person to improve his quality of life.

Alzheimer’s disease is also a lifestyle disease just like diabetes. Its likelihood to develop can be as a result of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and poorly controlled diabetes. People are advised to keep physical fitness and their minds active all through as way of controlling such conditions in their late lives (Bertram, et al., 2000, p.2290). People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have a weakened memory with many problems in planning what to do next, decision making and how they perceive things and events (Nicolls, 2004, p.52).

Like in the case of diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease is believed to be caused by excessive build up of proteins, that is, beta amyloidal protein in the brain resulting to breakdown of nerve cells. This condition is also defined as a genetically caused disease commonly by a gene found on chromosome 19 (Mendelson, 2008, p.130). Alzheimer disease develops gradually whereby in the initial stages, the patient may be seen to have his/her mind withdrawn from whatever he was doing. As the disease develops, the victim may start thinking completely out of the consent.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

The victim may also have problems in deciding what to do in the course of the day. Some queer behaviors and physical appearances may be observed whereby the patient is unable to dress properly. The later stages of the condition are very critical whereby the patient becomes very confused such that he/she cannot recognize the day or the month at a particular time (Bertram et al., 2000, p.2283). They can not give a clear description of where they come from, be engaged in any kind of a dialogue as they are much disoriented. Other commonly observable signs include misplacing objects, having problems in languages, poor decision making, changes in personality and lack of initiative.

Finally, they tend to be in a position where they can not take good care of themselves as they have already lost control of bladder and the bowel. At this stage, death can easily occur from any disease especially the patients who appear weak in health. There is no blood test which can be performed to test Alzheimer’s disease apart from the observable physical changes (Salk Institute, 2008, p.165). It has been proofed that people with diabetes mellitus are likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s diseases. Diabetes mellitus is a severe condition which requires the patient to be put to a standard check up and medications to control further complications.

Insulin resistance and diabetes

Diabetes is a disease which is marked by high blood sugars in the blood streams and its outstanding signs are excessive passing of urine and continuous thirst. Apart from the above, diabetes is characterized by other symptoms like skin problems which include rashes and infections, poor skin healing, urinary tract infections, skin ulcers, Candida among others (Whitehouse, Konrad &Jesse, 2000, p.125). Insulin resistance is said to be an initial stage of diabetes mellitus but the fact is; some people survive with insulin resistance condition for many years before diabetes mellitus is diagnosed. According to Heller (2004, p.285), when one is suffering from insulin resistance condition, the pancreas produces a lot of insulin but with diabetes mellitus, the pancreas stops producing insulin. When the insulin resistance condition is treated early enough it does not result to diabetes mellitus.

Risk factors of diabetes

The age of a person, body mass index and energy consumption in both male and the females are the major risk factors for diabetes. This implies that both men and women should control their body weights between a body mass index of 25 and 28, through regular body exercises. Another risk factor for diabetes is smoking; smokers are more prone to diabetes than the non-smokers. According to Nicolls (2004, p.53), those suffering from diabetes or have a family history of diabetes should by all means quit from smoking.

Misdiagnoses of diabetes

Misdiagnosis of diabetes can happen if done by unqualified/incompetent personnel. However, this is very rare. If such a case happens, it means that diabetes is not diagnosed but the other alternative problem is diagnosed (Bertram et al., 2000, p.2272). The most common misdiagnoses of diabetes include; fructosuria, which is a genetic disease with a similar symptom as diabetes of having a fructose sugar in the urine, pancreatitis, according to Heller (2004, p.288), which affects the functioning of the pancreas, diabetes insipidus, which has the same way of passing urine frequently though the tests detect it early, glucagonoma, a pancreatic cancer which breaks down the activities of the pancreas, impaired glucose tolerance, a condition where the patient’s body has got some difficulties of processing sugar, hemachromatosis, a condition brought by excessive increase of iron in the body hence destruction of the pancreas, the liver and the heart (Nicolls, 2004, p.48).

A patient may be diagnosed with the above diseases, which could be wrong. Other types of diseases which diabetes may be an alternative diagnoses include; acute pancreatitis, a condition which calls for a surgery due to severe inflammation of the pancreas, anorexia nervosa, a condition brought by people who severely starve themselves until death, conduct disorder where one feels disoriented and adopts antisocial behaviors, Cushing’s syndrome, a condition which results to a lot of cortisal hormone in the blood streams (Nicolls, 2004, p.49).

Diabetes as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease

According to the latest research, it’s evident that diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s diseases. The scientists argue that, most of the diabetic patients are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome which is a high risk for brain failure (Heller, 2004, p.284). The main source of the Alzheimer’s diseases is the brain problems, or in other cases for people already with Alzheimer’s diseases the condition is made worse by diabetes. At the stage of diabetes mellitus, according to Bertram et al. (2000, p.2250), the blood sugar raises which start slowing down the normal functioning of the brain marking an onset of Alzheimer’s diseases.

Some disorders like Alzheimer’s disease may lead to interference of the normal working of the insulin and that’s why, the diabetic people are very likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease more than those without, according to a large study done in Europe (Mendelson, 2008, p.216). Several researches have shown that diabetes increases mortality rate. Due to this, the sample taken for older adults who are diabetic is very small leading to underestimation of the relationship of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research done shows that Alzheimer’s disease developing from diabetes in the real life is more pronounced than shown in studies.

At the age of 50 years, some 2270 men were taken for diabetic testing. Out of them, 102 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and 57 were found to be suffering from vascular dementia, according to the study done in Sweden (Nicolls, 2004, p.51). That study also revealed that at the age of 50 years, those individuals who produce little amount of insulin are at a risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease than those individuals without insulin problems. The cause of Alzheimer’s disease is strongly connected to the insulin problems and hence, the results suggested that for a normal functioning of the brain, insulin must be present (Nicolls, 2004, p.51).

The study further suggests that the brain blood streams are spoiled by the distraction of the insulin disturbances leading to loss of memory and Alzheimer’s disease. According to Bertram et al. (2000, p.2300), insulin disturbances are an essential risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease to an individual who doesn’t posses the high risk gene. This study was held up at Uppsala University. A research done shows that there are some common factors which effect both diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease which include body physical exercises, eating habits and smoking.

Lifestyle risk factors which can reduce Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a lifestyle disease; studies show that there are some lifestyle factors which can reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease. They include: making regular use of anti-inflammatory drugs which have no steroidal, taking wine and coffee, and finally regularly getting involved in physical exercises. According to Bertram et al. (2000, p.2301), the factors which scientists suggest of increasing its risk factor are old age, diet, idleness of mind and the apolipoprotein allele. These factors are considered to have a negative effect on the normal functioning of the brain. A well managed diet and body exercises will improve the flow of the blood in the brain and as well reducing the stress (Mendelson, 2008, p.101).

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

There are several diseases which can cause dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and stroke being among the list. People suffering from dementia are faced with brain problems like memory failure. Dementia is marked by mental problems in thinking and reasoning hence affecting person’s daily operations (Nicolls, 2004, p.54). Dementia is a combination of symptoms as it originates from various diseases. Character changes and behavior constitute to the major symptoms of dementia.

Dementia is commonly caused by the Alzheimer’s disease although there are other 50 known causes which are related to degeneration of the brain nerve cells. Dementia is diagnosed in different forms which depend on the main cause. The dementia caused by the Alzheimer’s disease, the research shows that, its common than any other type of dementia. About 60% of the dementia cases are as a result of Alzheimer’s disease according to Mendelson (2008, p.112).

Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and diabetes

The study further confirmed that there was a greater risk to individuals who happened to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or vascular dementia before they attain 60 years. Results revealed that, as far as suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and excessive weight are concerned, female gender are at a higher risk than the male and vice versa when it comes to developing dementia (Nicolls, 2004, p.54). Out of 100 people suffering from dementia, 12 of them are investigated to be caused by excessive weight, 22 out of those hundred people; their dementia condition is seen to originate from Alzheimer’s disease.

This research concludes that, controlling excessive weight gain through physical body exercises and practicing healthy feeding habits can prevent the normal aging to developing into Alzheimer’s disease (Nicolls, 2004, p.47). The initial stages of Alzheimer’s disease are marked by decrease of glucose utilization which can be increased by insulin administration or by use of any insulin like factor.


In conclusion, as it is described, diabetes is a lifestyle disease as well as genetically passed. For those people who have a family history of diabetes they should be extra cautious with their eating habits (Mendelson, 2008, p.87). Some carbohydrates like white bread and potato chips should be avoided and get replaced with whole meal carbohydrates as part of their diet. The early symptoms of diabetes should be reported to a qualified physician for diagnoses for the patient to receive medical attention as early as possible.

People age with time and this comes with their mind relaxation (Nicolls, 2004, p.50). Above the age of 65 years’ people’s mind should be maintained in an active level together with the physical body exercises, and this will reduce the cases for Alzheimer’s disease which is a cause for dementia. With well managed diet, physical body exercises, active mind and avoiding such activities like smoking we shall be able to control a great percentage of the above discussed diseases.

Reference list

Bertram L, Blacker D, Mullin K, et al. (2000). Evidence for Genetic Linkage of Alzheimer’s disease to chromosome. Science, 290, 2202-2303.

Chau D, Edelman SV (2001). Clinical Management of Diabetes in the Elderly. Clinical Diabetes; 19 (4): 172-5.

Heller S. (2004). Diabetic Hypoglycaemia. Clin Endocrinol Metab, 13 (2), 279-94.

Mendelson Scott D. (2008). Metabolic syndrome and psychiatric illness: interactions, pathophysiology, assessment and treatment. Academic Press. Web.

Nicolls Mark R. (2004). The Clinical and Biological Relationship between Type II Diabetes Mellitus and Alzheimer’s disease. University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, 1, 47-54

Salk Institute (2008). Diabetes Link To Alzheimer’s Disease Explained. Science Daily. Web.

Vellas Bruno J., Winblad B. (2003). Research and Practice in Alzheimer’s Disease: Facts, Research, and Interventions in Geriatrics Series. Springer Pub Co Vol. 7. Web.

Whitehouse, Peter J., Konrad Maurer, and Jesse F. Ballenger. (2000). Concepts of Alzheimer Disease: Biological, Clinical, and Cultural Perspectives. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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