Research shows that insulin resistance may be detrimental to brain health
03/14/2019 // Rita Winters // Views

As each year passes, more studies are finding evidence that chronic diseases, as well as degenerative ones, are associated with poor lifestyle choices. A study from the Tel Aviv University shows that general cognitive decline may be accelerated by insulin resistance. Published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers find that unhealthy habits such as a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition may lead to an imbalance and defect in insulin response in both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar from carbohydrates (glucose) for energy. Properly functioning insulin regulates blood sugar levels, thus preventing hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. When insulin resistance occurs, cells fail to respond to the hormone, and prevents the muscle, fat, and liver cells from absorbing glucose. Without sufficient insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream, causing pre-diabetes, diabetes, and other serious health disorders.

Following a group of almost 500 patients with existing cardiovascular disease (CVD), scientists first assessed the patients' standard insulin resistance using the Homeostasis Model of Assessment (HOMA). Scientists also calculated fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. The patients' cognitive functions were assessed using computerized tests which examined memory, function, visual spatial processing, and attention. After 15 years, follow-up assessments were conducted, and the final assessments were done after five more years. Results of the collected data showed that individuals at the top of the HOMA index were at a high risk for cognitive degeneration as compared to those in the remaining three quarters of the index.


Researchers suggest the use of certain insulin-sensitizing drugs to cope with the resistance of insulin. But instead of using medications, they also suggested maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise and proper nutrition to better prevent insulin resistance and promote overall well-being.

The two-decade study was led by professors David Tanne and Uri Goldbourt, assisted by Drs. Miri Lutski and the whole of the TAU Sackler School of Medicine. The researchers are looking to conduct more studies on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve insulin resistance, as well as to promote wellness in all areas – physical, social, and mental.

Fast facts

  • Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2015, there were 46.8 million people with dementia. By 2030, there will be 74.7 million individuals diagnosed with the disease, and 131.5 million by 2050 if left ignored.
  • One in three pensioners die with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.
  • Someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds.
  • The worldwide cost of dementia was $818 billion in 2015, and is projected to rise above $1 trillion by 2018.

Cognitive decline comes with age and is hastened by poor lifestyle choices. As early as now, people should start preparing for the future by maintaining their weight, eating healthy and natural food, and sharpening the mind. The Alzheimer's Association indicates that the risk of cognitive degeneration can be prevented by adopting healthy habits. These include regular exercise, taking classes that challenge your brain, quitting unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive alcohol drinking, eating foods that lower the risk of CVDs, sleeping well, and keeping a healthy social relationship with friends and relatives.

Sources include:

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