You might have heard of the more common types of diabetes like type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. But many other types of diabetes aren’t well known.

One of them is type 3 diabetes. It is not a recognised medical condition, and the use of ‘type 3’ terminology is not officially acknowledged. However, diabetes is a tricky and long-term condition that requires timely treatment and consistent monitoring, irrespective of the type.

Though type 3 diabetes is still hidden in the shadows and not yet used by all doctors, it is beneficial to know more about preventing, managing, or lowering your risk of developing it. If you have type 3 diabetes or know someone who does, there are first-hand treatments and ways that come as close to a cure.

What is Type 3 Diabetes?

While type 1 and type 2 diabetes are well-defined, there is no solid definition of type 3 diabetes. Some people refer to it as the progression of type 2 diabetes to Alzheimer’s disease. In other words, type 3 diabetes is a condition proposed for Alzheimer’s disease caused by insulin resistance in the brain.

As a result, you can call it the ‘Diabetes of the Brain.’ However, it should not be confused with type 3c diabetes. Type 3c Diabetes (or Pancreatogenic Diabetes) occurs when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin for the body. In contrast, type 3 diabetes occurs from a type of insulin resistance and insulin growth factor dysfunction that occurs specifically in the brain.

Type 3 also shows a significant difference from type 1 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys the cells that make insulin, but your body becomes less sensitive to insulin during type 3. Nonetheless, diabetes in any form can be dangerous if not treated properly. 

What Causes Type 3 Diabetes?

Since type 3 diabetes is a progression from type 2 diabetes, you can consider type 2 as a risk factor. According to a study, people with type 2 diabetes are 60% more prone to developing type 3 diabetes than normal blood sugar individuals. In addition, women with type 2 diabetes have 19% more risk when compared to men. However, not everyone suffering from diabetes develops Alzheimer’s disease or type 3 diabetes. 

Other risks or causative factors for type 3 diabetes include:

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance (IR) is a pathological condition in which cells fail to respond to insulin. As a result, it reduces the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Type 3 diabetes is a condition which can follow after initially being diagnosed with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes glucose deficiency in the brain neurons. The lack of glucose particularly impacts the hippocampus and the brain’s cerebral cortex, leading to type 3 diabetes.


In some people, hyperglycemia or high blood sugar contributes to oxidative stress within the brain. Oxidative stress creates a free radical imbalance in the brain, leading to tissue and cell damage. As a result, it causes cognitive degenerative type 3 diabetes. 

Lipid peroxidation

Lipid peroxidation is a chain of lipid degeneration in people with type 2 diabetes. It causes cell destruction and oxidative stress, commonly responsible for triggering type 3 diabetes. 

Type 3 diabetes occurs due to insulin resistance in the brain. One of the reasons is that not enough glucose can move from your blood to your brain to power up those brain cells. The result is that the brain cells, called neurons, become starved of glucose, leading to characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, it leads to a progressive reduction in memory, reasoning, and judgement. Some people say that Alzheimer’s is “diabetes in your brain.”

A study shows that type 2 diabetes serves as a cofactor in the pathogenesis or progression of type 3 diabetes or Alzheimer’s. At the same time, the results show that significant activation of inflammatory mediators, oxidative stress, DNA damage, and mitochondrial dysfunction with insulin resistance leads to Alzheimer’s disease. 

Many people with type 2 diabetes do not know that they have the condition, which delays diagnosis and appropriate treatment measures. As a result, untreated diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in your brain over time. Eventually, people enter into a type 3 state and acquire dementia-like symptoms. However, the science of this process is uncertain. But a study states that the relationship between type 3 diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer’s disease arises from impaired insulin signalling in the brain. While the specific mechanisms between Alzehmeirs and type 3 diabetes remain unclear, increasing the awareness can improve disease treatment and prevention and possibly even deliver a cure.

Symptoms of Type 3 Diabetes

The early stages of type 3 diabetes cause symptoms of dementia, such as those seen in Alzheimer’s disease. However, they do not show high blood sugar levels in a laboratory test. 

Mentioned below are some of the symptoms:

  • The primary symptom is memory loss, where a person forgets essential activities. It affects daily living and social interactions. You tend to forget recent memories and may ask the same thing repeatedly. 
  • You start to do things slower and become confused about simple things like names, dates or places. It decreases your ability to make judgements based on information.
  • Often lose your train of thought in the middle of a sentence and misplace or lose things. 
  • You start to withdraw from work or social activities and experience sudden changes in personality or demeanour.

None of these symptoms diagnoses that you have type 3 diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. But if you observe these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, consult a doctor immediately.

Could You Be at Risk of Type 3 Diabetes?

People with insulin resistance, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, are at increased risk of suffering from type 3 diabetes. While type 3 diabetes does not develop without having high blood glucose levels, having type 2 diabetes appears to accelerate its progression. Furthermore, those with amyloid-beta protein deposits in the pancreas are more likely to suffer from type 3 diabetes-induced Alzheimer’s disease.  

A particular gene can make some people more likely to develop type 3 diabetes. And about 20% of diabetic people tend to carry the gene. It shows a significant relation with insulin resistance in the brain, leading to type 3 diabetes. But for prevention, a healthy lifestyle is the best approach.

Treatment for Type 3 Diabetes

Insulin resistance is a triggering factor of type 3 diabetes. Therefore treatment strategies are aimed at improving insulin sensitivity. One such method is melatonin administration, where the melatonin regulates hyperglycaemia and insulin resistance to lessen the progression of type 3 diabetes. In addition, you can try the administration of the hormone Glucagon-like Peptide 1 to reduce the brain’s inflamed reaction caused by oxidative stress. A study shows that Glucagon-like Peptide 1 can decrease the brain’s insulin resistance in type 3 diabetes patients. In addition, it can also increase the production of neurons to substitute impaired neurons within the brain. As a result, GLP-1 can offer a therapeutic effect in type 3 diabetes-induced dementia.

There is no cure for type 3 diabetes, but doctors prescribe drugs to manage the symptoms. For example, Aducanumab is a medication that helps reduce the cognitive and functional decline in the early stages of the disease. Other medicines like suvorexant, donepezil and galantamine can lessen memory loss and thinking issues. They can also improve behavioural and psychological symptoms. 

Methods to Protect Your Brain Against Type 3 Diabetes

Brain-Friendly Foods

Eating well is good for your mental as well as your physical health. But certain foods are essential to keep your brain healthy and safe from type 3 diabetes. So aim for your plate to be at least half-filled with colourful vegetables during meals. Fibrous prebiotic vegetables such as asparagus, beetroot and peas boost healthy gut bacteria and benefit your brain. You can also load up on fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. Other healthy choices include broccoli, tomatoes, sage, pumpkin seeds, eggs, blueberries, oily fish, and whole grains. 

Limit Fats

High-fat levels tend to impact insulin levels and insulin output. Therefore, minimise your intake of saturated fats and eat lean protein such as fish, skinless chicken, and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and olives. 

Watch Your Weight

As weight increases, so does insulin resistance. So if you are overweight, losing just 10% of your body weight can significantly improve your insulin sensitivity. Also, watch your waistline because more than 80cm (for women) or 94cm (for men) indicates insulin resistance problems.

Increase Sleep and Reduce Stress

Stress and poor sleep quality cause your body to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones disrupt glucose intake and insulin use. That can be bad news for your brain. Try calming practices such as yoga, breathing exercises, mediation, and mindfulness to reduce stress hormones and help you feel more relaxed. In addition, aim for at least seven or eight hours of sleep nightly. 

Be Physically Active

Exercise makes every cell more sensitive to insulin, meaning glucose enters your cells more efficiently. As a result, the brain cells or neurons do not face any glucose deprivation. Therefore, minimising the risk of type 3 diabetes. Regular physical activities can reduce your risk of developing type 3 diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease by 50%. 

The effect of exercise on insulin sensitivity stands for 24 hours after exercising and lasts for up to 72 hours. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Include balance and coordination exercises with cardio exercise and strength training. 


Type 3 diabetes or brain diabetes refers to the condition of developing Alzheimer’s disease from reduced insulin expression or high insulin resistance. Note that type 3 diabetes is not the same as type 3c diabetes. The latter is a secondary condition that arises due to pancreatic diseases or malfunction. Type 3 diabetes can be complicated and cause different health problems, but it is not inevitable. Receiving regular check-ups and understanding how to look after yourself will help to reduce the risk of developing complications. 

The exact connection between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes is still in debate. However, poorly controlled blood sugar can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Your type 3 diabetes treatment will vary according to the severity of your dementia. Multiple analyses suggest that you can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s or type 3 diabetes with diet, exercise, and medication. The sooner you consult with your doctor, the better your outlook.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is there type 3 Diabetes?

A. Type 3 diabetes describes Alzheimer’s caused by insulin resistance inside the brain. It is the term to represent the link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s risk. However, type 3 diabetes is not an officially recognised health condition. 

Q. What is Type 4 Diabetes?

A. Type 4 Diabetes occurs in people who aren’t overweight or obese but are older. It arises from insulin resistance in older people who are otherwise healthy in weight and BMI. In other words, type 4 describes age-related insulin resistance that occurs in lean, older adults. 

Q. What are the symptoms of Diabetes Type 3?

A. Memory loss, deteriorating reasoning abilities, language impairment, sudden shifts in mood and personality, anxiety, depression, psychosis, and inappropriate behaviour are some symptoms of Diabetes Type 3. However, most signs of type 3 diabetes mimic the symptoms of dementia. 

Q. Can Type 3 diabetes be reversed?

A. There is no cure for type 3 diabetes. However, you can control it through a healthy diet, regular exercise, and prescription medicines. Medications are available to slow the condition’s progression or treat its symptoms.

Q. Is Type 3 Diabetes genetic?

A. The risk of developing Type 3 Diabetes can increase with a family history of diabetes. Hence, it could be considered genetic. There is a link between Alzheimer’s gene and type 3 diabetes. Some people develop the ailment from a combination of both genetic and environmental aspects. 

Q. How is type 3c Diabetes diagnosed?

A. The criteria for diagnosing type 3c diabetes include the poor function of the pancreas or performing an imaging scan to check visible damage on the pancreas. In addition, you can look out for the signs of pancreatic exocrine insufficiency. 

Q. Does exercise reverse diabetes?

A. Despite lacking a cure, you can slow, stop, and in some cases, even reverse the long-term effects of diabetes through a proper exercise regimen. In addition, it can help shed weight and promote healthy insulin levels, leading to a path to remission.

Q. Can Alzheimer’s Disease be a form of Type 3 Diabetes?

A. Yes, type 3 diabetes is a form of insulin resistance that results in symptoms mimicking Alzheimer’s disease. Unofficially, people call Alzheimer’s disease type 3 diabetes because the neurons in the brain become unable to respond to insulin. 

Q. Which diabetes can go away?

A. Diabetes does not go away on its own and lacks a permanent cure. However, type 2 diabetes can go into remission if you modify your diet to a healthy one, maintain a healthy weight, and make healthy lifestyle choices.

Q. Why is it called type 3c diabetes?

A. Type 3c Diabetes or Pancreatogenic Diabetes develops when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin hormone. It is a secondary form of diabetes, hence called type 3c. Approximately 9% of all diabetes cases are type 3c, but the condition is underdiagnosed due to a lack of awareness. 

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