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Insulin Resistance and Alzheimer’s disease

Insulin is the hormone that facilitates the transport of blood sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into cells for use as fuel. In healthy individuals it is secreted by the pancreas in response to the normal increase in blood sugar that occurs after a meal. With insulin resistance, the normal amount of insulin secreted is not enough to move glucose into the cells - thus the cells are said to be "resistant" to its action, and the pancreas is prompted to secrete higher amounts. This excess insulin drives the body to store fat and can lead to diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. And new research suggests that insulin resistance may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Investigators at Iowa State University examined brain scans of 150 middle age adults whose average was 60 who showed no signs of memory loss. The scans were aimed at determining if study participants with higher levels of insulin resistance used less blood sugar in particular regions of the brain, especially those areas most susceptible to Alzheimer’s. If so, the brain would have less energy to deal with information and function. The results showed that insulin resistance was associated with significantly lower regional cerebral glucose metabolism, which in turn may predict worse memory performance. Based on their findings, the researchers noted that problems regulating blood sugar might affect cognitive function regardless of age. Even people with mild or moderate insulin resistance might have an increased risk for Alzheimer’s because they’re showing many of the same sorts of brain and memory relationships wrote lead researcher Auriel A. Willette, Ph.D. Fortunately, you can help restore normal insulin sensitivity with diet – emphasize low-glycemic index food – and exercise.