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Cognitive impairment and dementia may be caused by insulin resistance

Cognitive impairment and dementia may be caused by insulin resistanceThe brain normally only uses blood sugar in the form of glucose. However, people suffering from insulin resistance have impaired cellular uptake of blood sugar, causing an energy shortage of the brain. According to a recent Israeli study, insulin resistance may speed up impairment of the cognitive functions that include the ability to think, speak, and solve problems. Because insulin resistance is an early stage of type-2 diabetes that spreads like an epidemic, there is every reason in the world to start preventing or treating this condition. A few dietary adjustments combined with a blood sugar-regulating trace element may do the trick.

A team of Israeli scientists studied 500 cardiovascular patients, some of which had diabetes. Prior to the study, all patients were tested for insulin levels in the blood, insulin resistance, and fasting blood sugar. In addition, their cognitive functions were determined. Again, after 15 and 20 years, the patients were tested once more. The scientists observed that the patients who had the highest degree of insulin resistance showed signs of accelerated cognitive impairment compared with the people who had a lower degree of insulin resistance. This was seen in diabetics as well as in non-diabetics.

Measurements of insulin resistance can predict the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

According to the Israeli researchers, measurements of insulin resistance represent a very simple way of predicting a person’s risk of developing cognitive impairment and dementia. This is particularly true in people who already have a cardiovascular disease.
The new study that is published in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease supports numerous other studies where researchers have found a link between high intake of fast, refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour and an increased risk of dementia.
Alzheimer’s sufferers also show signs of insulin resistance in the brain, which is why another name for the disease is type-3 diabetes. Scientists have even observed build-up of so-called beta-amyloid plaque, a type of protein that causes mild, local inflammation and symptoms such as loss of memory, loss of orientation, and loss of other cognitive skills.

Did you know that insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50-60%?

What causes insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes?

Different types of carbohydrate such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruit, and sugar are all broken down to glucose (blood sugar), which all cells need for fuel. Once we have consumed a meal, our blood sugar levels go up. After some time, they go back down again, and we feel hungry.
Blood sugar levels will always oscillate but within a normal range.
Many people have large blood sugar fluctuations because they consume too many fast carbohydrates. When their blood sugar shoots up and drops rapidly afterwards, they risk losing control over their willpower and calorie intake.
In time, the unstable blood sugar levels may develop into insulin resistance where the uptake of glucose in cells is permanently impaired. When that happens, people experience that even when they have just eaten something, they are quickly overwhelmed by fatigue, hunger, and other symptoms that arise as a result of the cells getting too little energy. At the same time, excess calories are cleared from the blood and stored as fat.
Insulin resistance is the part of metabolic syndrome that is characterized an apple-shaped body, hypertension, and elevated lipid levels (cholesterol, triglycerides) in the blood. Metabolic syndrome is an early stage of type-2 diabetes, and both are spreading with epidemic proportions.

Did you know that elevated cholesterol levels are often caused by blood sugar disturbances and insulin resistance?

What effect does chromium have on blood sugar?

After we eat or drink something, the glucose must find its way to our cells. This is where insulin comes into the picture. Insulin can be compared to a key that opens the cells and helps glucose get inside. Science has shown that insulin works better if it is attached to a specific chromium compound. That way, chromium helps insulin channel more glucose into the cells.
In other words, chromium sets the stage for optimal glucose uptake, stable blood sugar levels, prolonged satiety, and a reduced need for unnecessary calories that eventually tapers off entirely.

Chromium’s effect on insulin, blood sugar levels, and the cardiovascular system

  • Enhances the effect of insulin
  • Improves the uptake of glucose in nerve cells, muscle cells, and other tissues
  • Improves the uptake of glucose in the ”satiety center” of the brain, thereby lowering hunger symptoms
  • Lowers lipid levels in the blood

Chromium sources and causes of chromium deficiency

Chromium is mainly found in brewer’s yeast, tea leaves, cocoa beans, apricots, seeds, almonds, beans, nuts, fish, and meat. Low chromium levels in the soil may result in chromium-deficient crops. Our modern, refined diets only contribute with small amounts of chromium.
When blood sugar levels drop too rapidly, around 20% of the chromium in the blood is excreted in the urine. Therefore, consuming many fast carbohydrates depletes chromium levels in the body. Stimulant abuse, stress, and prolonged dieting may also cause a chromium deficiency.

Supplementing with chromium yeast has the best effect on blood sugar levels

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved chromium for its ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels and normal macronutrient metabolism. In addition, EFSA has concluded that organic chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better in the body than synthetically manufactured chromium sources like chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.

Read the label before buying a chromium supplement

Organic chromium yeast has up to 10 times better absorption in the body than chromium picolinate and chromium chloride. Always read the label.

Other useful tips on how to control your blood sugar

  • Make sure to eat three healthy main meals, possibly with a snack in between
  • Remember to include adequate amounts of protein with each meal
  • Do not shy away of from fats, just make sure to eat the healthy, unspoiled kind
  • Choose coarse carbohydrates with lots of fiber
  • Eat plenty of greens, especially vegetables
  • Avoid altogether or limit your intake of sugar, juice, and alcohol
  • Avoid altogether or limit your intake of caffeinated beverages
  • Try the best you can to avoid prolonged stress
  • Remember to exercise and include many small physical activities in your daily program

Did you know that the brain and nerve cells primarily use glucose as fuel?

- the muscles and heart burn equal amounts of fat and glucose when a person is not winded?


Lutski M et al. Insulin resistance and future cognitive performance and cognitive decline in elderly patients with cardiovascular disease. Journal of Alzheimer´s Disease. 2017

Sybille Hildebrandt. Insulinresistens i hjernen kan udløse Alzheimers. Dagens Medicin. 2016

Diabetes Health. Alzheimer’s new name: Type 3 Diabetes. 2014

EFSA: Scientific Opinion on ChromoPrecise cellular bound chromium yeast added for nutritional purposes as a source of chromium in food supplements and the bioavailability of chromium from this source. EFSA Journal 2012

J. Racek et al: Influence of chromium-enriched yeast on blood glucose and insulin variables, blood lipids, and markers of oxidative stress in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Biological Trace Element Research. 2006

Vincent, John B, Dontarie Stallings: The Nutritional Biochemistry of Chromium (III) Elsevier 2007

Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker og din vægt. Ny Videnskab 2013

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