Diabetes Drugs May Help Treat Alzheimer’s

By Lynn Allison – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

We may be taking the wrong path to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, several experts say. For many years, scientists believed it was the accumulation of amyloid plaque and protein tangles in the brain cells that caused the dreaded disease.

But according to CNN, even the German physician Alois Alzheimer, who identified the brain changes in his deceased patients, cautioned that scientists should not to jump to the conclusion that these proteins actually caused the disease.

Now, researchers are looking for new ways to prevent and treat the disease which affects 5.7 million Americans, mostly over the age of 65. The current trend is to try and identify risk factors for the disease and modify them before the damage is done or give drugs to slow down the progression.

One of the strongest and most promising avenues of research involves diabetes, a disease in which insulin becomes less effective controlling blood sugar levels. But according to experts, the neurons in the brain are very dependent on insulin as a growth factor. If they don’t’ get enough they die. This has opened up a new pathway for the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s, say experts.

Dr. Gary Small, a professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Science and the Director if the UCLA Longevity Center is one of the world’s leading experts on science and technology in the field of memory and aging, and the author of many bestselling books on brain health including “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.”

Small, author of the Mind Health Report newsletter, tells Newsmax that the new line of research may indeed shed light into the cause and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

“People who develop type 2 diabetes have an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease,” he says. “The observation that insulin may function as a neural growth factor in the brain may be a clue to developing new treatments in Alzheimer’s disease.”

When looking at brain tissue taken from deceased Alzheimer’s patients, scientists found that insulin had lost its effectiveness as a growth factor even in people who were not diabetic.

According to CNN, this observation suggests that diabetes drugs may be an effective treatment for people with Alzheimer’s. Some experiments on animals have been very impressive and several clinical trials have begun to test this theory.

In the meantime, Small recommends we follow an Alzheimer’s prevention diet to stave off diabetes and heart disease.

“This includes foods rich in four main categories: antioxidant fruits such as berries and raisins, along with antioxidant vegetables like spinach and broccoli. I also recommend foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids which include fish and walnuts and healthy proteins like chicken breast and low-fat yogurt. Adding whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal complete the anti-Alzheimer’s menu.”

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