Alzheimer’s and Diabetes?

Is Alzheimer’s actually a type of diabetes? What some now consider type-3 Diabetes, brain damage due to insulin resistance on neurons is a growing problem. Back in 2009, researchers found that insulin resistance (the inability of cells to utilize insulin and glucose due to chronic, high levels of glucose) increases brain plaques. This plaque is ‘beta amyloid’ and it’s largely responsible for Alzheimer’s as well as other degenerative disorders.

As research in this area continues to expand, the latest information suggests a favorite beverage may be part of the solution. Green tea is great for cognitive function. Now a study ties all this together and shows that green tea is a must for anyone with diabetes or any type of dementia.

Researchers found that ECGC is the key flavonoid in green tea that protects insulin-producing cells. The researchers selected mice with elevated blood glucose levels. At 32 weeks of age (still rather early in life), they evaluated the mice to see if they were developing autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet cells (the cells that make your insulin).

Of the mice that received ECGC, 75% had properly functioning islet cells and healthy blood glucose levels. Only 33.3% of controls (not fed ECGC) retained healthy islet cells and glucose levels.

In addition, the ECGC mice had consistently higher (normal) plasma insulin levels, increased survival rates, and lower glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) levels compared to the mice in the control group. The ECGC group also had increased levels of a most important anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10.

Our neighboring Asian cultures have been drinking green tea for centuries. They don’t have nearly the rate of diabetes or Alzheimer’s that we Americans have. Green tea may have the same effect on your brain that it has on your pancreas as green tea specifically protects your brain from the neurotoxic free radical peroxynitrite. So make sure you’re drinking plenty of green tea. It can help prevent and treat diabetes and Alzheimer’s. If you dislike it, we have our patients add green tea extract (1-2 tsp/day of PRL brand) to a drink or take EGCG capsules daily.