Type 3 Diabetes – What’s In A Name?

brain imageMost people have never heard of type 3 diabetes, while others aren’t even sure it exists. So, where did the term come from and is it even real?

The term is self promoted (created) by a group of scientist working at Brown University Medical School. In 2005, they announced that insulin is also produced in the brain, not just in the pancreas. This discovery, on its own, is quite remarkable. However, they also discovered more.

Scientists have long believed that diabetes has some influence on whether a person develops Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, diabetics are up to 65% more likely to get Alzheimer’s.

Up until 2005, the link was primarily centered on a similar protein found in both the brain and pancreas of diabetics and Alzheimer’s patients.

The Brown University team however, believes that the link is due to the lack of insulin produced not only in the pancreas but also the brain. They believe that without the brain insulin, cells in the memory part of the brain (hippocampus) die. Similar issues arise if there is an increase in insulin resistance.

The same Brown University researchers reached similar conclusion in a more recent, 2012 study. However, the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease is even more significant.

Re-thinking type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s Diseases

It now appears that it may not be diabetes that causes type 3 diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. However, if you have diabetes you still have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Instead, a poor diet may be the root, or at least a leading cause, of BOTH diseases. This is a cosmic shift in thinking. Before, a common assumption was that Alzheimer’s was somewhat random. You never knew if that special magic bullet would strike you.

Now, eating a poor diet, such as one high in sugar and processed foods may lead to developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The increase in insulin resistance caused by spikes in glucose levels after eating a poor diet can lead to the destruction of brain cells. Apparently, eating stupid, makes you stupid!

Thus, the term type 3 diabetes appears to mislabel the condition. Instead, I would argue that diabetes is simply the early warning sign of Alzheimer’s disease, similar to how diabetes is the early warning sign of cardiovascular disease and every other diabetes complication.

However, the root cause to ALL THESE CONDITIONS is a poor diet of excessive sugar, processed foods, etc.

Anyway, I think I am off to the refrigerator to get some celery sticks.


Study Suggests Type 3 Diabetes, BBC.co.uk, March 7, 2005.
Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes?, Mark Bittman September 25, 2012, New York Times (accessed February 2013)
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed October 2011.