Though the evidence isn't concrete -- yet -- some scientists are beginning to believe Alzheimer's disease is nothing more than a metabolic disease, like diabetes.
Some have even nicknamed it type 3 diabetes.
As told by PopSci, Alzheimer's disease shares a distinct connection with diabetes when it comes to insulin -- or in this case, the irregularity of it. For those suffering from Alzheimer's disease, studies show people generally have low insulin levels in the brain. On the other hand, people who suffer from diabetes either cannot produce insulin or lack the ability to use insulin properly.
But the connection doesn't end there: Diabetes is also correlated with a significantly higher risk of dementia, according to a 2011 study published in Neurology. The risk almost reached 50 percent. While most of the evidence largely draws on correlational evidence, the studies keep on mounting -- and it's hard to ignore.
What these studies mean for you
Although proof of Alzheimer's disease being a metabolic disease is purely theoretical at this point, this hasn't been the first time Alzheimer's has been linked with diabetes, and the connection here probably is real. The real question is what is causing this connection -- and for that answer, further testing is needed.
In the meanwhile, this just reinforces the need for diabetes prevention, or more specifically, type 2 diabetes. While type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, some risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes can be controlled. According to the Mayo Clinic, these risk factors include little to no physical activity, eating a high-calorie diet, and being overweight or obese. If you aren't already, getting fit is one of the best ways to control these risks. Eating in moderation, sticking to a healthy, balanced diet, and seeing a nutritionist if a healthcare provider determines your weight needs to be reduced or controlled, can also help.
Keep in mind these suggestions only help control certain risk factors, and do not imply it can eradicate your diabetes risk: People who are thin, exercise a lot, or eat a healthy diet can still develop type 2 diabetes because of other uncontrollable risk factors, such as racial makeup, a family history of diabetes, or being over a certain age. This doesn't mean living a healthy lifestyle doesn't matter, however -- it can also help reduce other health risks, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
Ann Olson is a freelance writer with a professional background in nutrition. She previously consulted personal trainers and supplement companies.