How Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Risk May be Related

Type 2 Diabetes and Alzheimer's Risk

A recent study found evidence that there is a link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s risk, which some health experts refer to as type 3 diabetes. Researchers said consuming a high-fat diet may boost inflammatory levels, increasing the risk of dementia.

Diabetes and Alzheimer’s are two of the most rapidly expanding health challenges worldwide. An estimated 1 in 10 individuals in the United States have diabetes, a condition that affects the body’s ability to turn food into energy [1]. Alzheimer’s is one of the top 10 most common causes of mortality in the US. It is a type of dementia that gradually impairs thinking and memory abilities.

Researchers from Texas A&M University presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, highlighting the emerging evidence that type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease are related.

They used mice to study the association between the two diseases; their results have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal [2]. The team traced a specific protein in the intestines to determine its impact on brain functions. They discovered that consuming a diet heavy in fat inhibits a protein known as jak3.

The absence of this protein caused inflammation in the mice, which started in the intestines and spread to the liver and brain. These mice showed Alzheimer’s-like symptoms, including cognitive impairment.

Possible relation between Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes

According to the study, controlling or preventing type 2 diabetes may help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists pointed out that earlier studies suggest that diet influences the development and severity of diabetes, and it has recently been linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

The study’s first author, Narendra Kumar, PhD, an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Texas A&M, said that meta-analytic statistics show that people with type 2 diabetes had a 56% higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia [3].

Since there is a recognized connection between type 2 diabetes and diet, the researchers believe that lifestyle and diet may be some of the primary factors influencing Alzheimer’s development.

Kumar thinks it’s probable that this connection would hold for different forms of dementia, even though this study hasn’t looked into it, and it is too soon to reach that conclusion.

How a leaky gut could play a role

According to Texas A&M researchers, the jak3 protein can cause a leaky gut, resulting in low-grade chronic inflammation, type 2 diabetes, diminished ability in the brain to eliminate harmful compounds, and dementia-like symptoms.

A leaky gut is a disorder in which intestinal wall gaps allow toxins and microbes to leak out and enter the bloodstream. Not all health professionals acknowledge this as a separate medical disease, and it needs more research.

The researchers believe that adopting a nutritious diet and regulating blood sugar can help stop this process and inflammation. Healthy food and lifestyle practices should ideally start early enough to prevent high blood sugar or, at the very least, early enough to reverse prediabetes.

According to the researchers, these modifications may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes.

Linking type 2 diabetes with Alzheimer’s

Approximately 81% of individuals with Alzheimer’s also have type 2 diabetes, per a study from USC’s Keck School of Medicine [4]. The dementia risk correlated with the age of diabetes diagnosis: the younger the age of developing diabetes, the higher the chance of developing dementia.

Scientists have labeled the combination of these two illnesses as “type 3 diabetes.” According to the researchers, the liver may play a crucial role in the gut-brain connection since it metabolizes food.

Experts know that excessive blood sugar or insulin can damage the brain and raise the chance of Alzheimer’s, yet the exact cause of this disorder is still unknown [5].

The brain uses half of the body’s sugar energy to function effectively, making it the organ with the highest energy requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that blood vessels in the brain can sustain damage from both high and low blood sugar levels [6].

An abnormal blood sugar level may damage brain blood vessels and nerves, which can lead to issues with mood, memory, learning, weight gain, and hormonal fluctuations. It may eventually result in Alzheimer’s disease.

Changing lifestyle may help

Experts believe that lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, and others are equally significant. Diet and lifestyle modifications to manage weight are beneficial in lowering and controlling diabetes risk. Numerous people find immense relief from their disease with the introduction of new and advanced medications. However, there are many other things people can do to manage their condition on their own.

In particular, those with prediabetes may benefit from changing their lifestyles to reverse the condition, prevent Type 2 diabetes from developing, and maybe lower their risk of Alzheimer’s.


  1. Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed: 2nd April, 2024.
  2. Study Links Diet, Diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Neuroscience. Published Online: 23rd March, 2024. Accessed: 2nd April, 2024.
  3. Cholerton, B., Baker, L.D., Montine, T.J. and Craft, S., 2016. Type 2 diabetes, cognition, and dementia in older adults: toward a precision health approach. Diabetes Spectrum, 29(4), pp.210-219.
  4. A growing body of research links type 2 diabetes with risk for Alzheimer’s. Press Release, Keck School of Medicine of USC. Published Online: 16th March, 2022. Accessed: 2nd April, 2024.
  5. Diabetes and cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s Association. Updated: February, 2023. Accessed: 2nd April, 2024.
  6. The Effects of Diabetes on the Brain. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed: 2nd April, 2024.
  7. How type 2 diabetes may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease risk. Medical News Today. Published Online: 23rd MArch, 2024. Accessed: 2nd April, 2024.
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