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Alzheimer's may be a metabolic disease, some scientists say

September 14, 2012

As more studies about Alzheimer's emerge, the medical community gets a clearer picture of how the condition acts, and some of the most recent findings may change how people approach the disease. There is growing evidence that Alzheimer's, much like diabetes, is primarily a metabolic disease and may be prevented by eating a healthy diet, according to New Scientist.

The belief that Alzheimer's disease is related to what a person eats has caught on with a growing number of scientists. So many, in fact, that some in the field have taken to calling it type 3 diabetes, and for good reason. There has long been a relationship between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's, and many scientists believe the condition is caused by how a brain responds to insulin.

Though Alzheimer's as a metabolic disease is not an established fact, the studies on the subject are compelling. Perhaps most convincing is a 2005 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, which looked at the brains of 45 patients who had various stages of Alzheimer's. They found the brains had an impaired response to insulin.

"We're able to show it's linked to major neurotransmitters responsible for cognition. We're able to show it's linked to poor energy metabolism, and it's linked to abnormalities that contribute to the tangles characteristic of advanced Alzheimer's disease," said senior researcher Suzanne M. de la Monte.

The growing amount of research suggests seniors should make paying attention to what they eat part of healthy aging. According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are a number of foods associated with preventing the condition including whole grains, fruits and leafy green vegetables. Furthermore, limiting red meat intake is important as well.