Insulin resistance and reduced brain glucose metabolism in the aetiology of Alzheimer’s disease

Amy L. Berger


Significant epidemiological and clinical evidence has emerged that suggests Alzheimer’s disease (AD) can be added to the list of chronic illnesses that are primarily caused by modern diets and lifestyles at odds with human physiology. High intakes of refined carbohydrates insufficient physical activity, suboptimal sleep quantity and quality, and other factors that may contribute to insulin resistance combine to create a perfect storm of glycation and oxidative stress in the brain. Specific neurons lose the ability to metabolise and harness energy from glucose, ultimately resulting in neuronal degeneration and death. Simultaneously, chronic peripheral hyperinsulinaemia prevents ketogenesis, thus depriving struggling neurons of a highly efficient alternative fuel substrate. The intimate association between type 2 diabetes and AD suggests that they have common underlying causes, namely insulin resistance and perturbed glucose metabolism. Preclinical evidence of AD is detectable decades before over symptoms appear, indicating that AD progresses over time, with observable signs manifesting only after the brain’s compensatory mechanisms have failed and widespread neuronal atrophy begins to interfere with cognition and performance of daily life tasks. That dietary and environmental triggers play pivotal roles in causing AD suggests that nutrition and lifestyle based interventions may hold the key to ameliorating or preventing this debilitating condition for which conventional pharmaceutical treatments are largely ineffective. Results from small scale clinical studies indicate that dietary and lifestyle strategies may be effective for reversing dementia and cognitive impairment. Increased research efforts should be dedicated towards this promising avenue in the future.


Alzheimer's insulin; insulin resistance; hyperinsulinemia; glucose; cognitive impairment; ketones; ketogenic diet

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Submitted: 14 July 2016
Published: 03 December 2016

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Journal of Insulin Resistance    |    ISSN: 2412-2785 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2519-7533 (ONLINE)