Type 3 Diabetes – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Mehak Shah

March 6, 2023

Type 3 Diabetes – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

We all know of the disease called diabetes. Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder that happens due to an elevated blood glucose level when the body can’t produce insulin.

An adult’s average blood glucose level should be 90-180 mg/dL. Any fluctuation in the range is suspected to be diabetes. You must also be familiar with the two types of diabetes.

If you aren’t well acquainted with them, here are two blogs to help you understand the conditions better. 

Type 1 Diabetes– A Comprehensive Guide

Type 2 Diabetes– A Comprehensive Guide

Apart from these two, another type of diabetes you might have heard of is gestational diabetes.

Here’s a blog on Gestational Diabetes Diet: Food to eat and avoid

However, there exist a few lesser-known types of diabetes as well. One such type is Type-3 Diabetes. This type of diabetes is hidden within the folds of medical terminologies and thus, is not officially acknowledged yet.  Nevertheless, it is a life-threatening condition that you should be aware of in order to take necessary steps towards its prevention and timely management.

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.

This article provides in-depth knowledge of the meaning of Type 3 diabetes, its causes, risk factors and treatment. 

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 ‘Diabetes of the Brain’.

Be mindful to not confuse type 3 diabetes with type 3c diabetes. Type 3c Diabetes (or Pancreatogenic Diabetes) occurs when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin for the body. Whereas, type 3 diabetes occurs from a type of insulin resistance and insulin growth factor dysfunction that occurs specifically in the brain.

To put it simply, in Type 3c Diabetes, there is an issue with the production of insulin in the body by the pancreas while in Type 3 Diabetes, there is a problem with the utilisation of insulin by 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, however, in the case of Type 3 diabetes, our brains become less sensitive to insulin. 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 individuals with normal blood sugar levels. 

According to this research, the main factors contributing towards the development of Type 2 diabetes are lifestyle habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity.

Studies have also shown that a low-fibre diet with a high glycemic index is positively associated with a higher risk of diabetes. Here’s a comprehensive article on the Type 2 diabetes diet to help you manage it better. Furthermore, research suggests that specific dietary fatty acids may affect insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes to varying degrees. 

However, not everyone suffering from diabetes develops Alzheimer’s disease or type 3 diabetes. Conscious efforts such as an active lifestyle and healthy diet can help minimise the risk factors towards the progression of subsequent health consequences. 

Other 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. Here, only a limited amount of glucose is able to move from the blood to your brain.

This insufficient quantity is unable to fully power up the neurons, and the brain cells, and starves them of energy which is a leading characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.This further leads to a progressive reduction in memory, reasoning, and judgement. 

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.

Even though the exact scientific path of this process is unclear, this 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 continue to be researched, awareness regarding the condition 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. One may tend to forget recent memories and ask the same things repeatedly. 
  • One may start to do things slower and get confused over simple things like names, dates or places. It decreases one’s ability to make judgements based on the available information.
  • One may often lose their trail of thoughts while talking and misplace or lose things often. 
  • One may start to withdraw from work or social activities and experience sudden changes in personality or demeanour.

None of these symptoms is a conclusive indication of Type 3 Diabetes. However, if you observe these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, it’s advisable to consult a doctor as early as possible. 

Could You Be At Risk Of Developing Type 3 Diabetes?

People with insulin resistance, particularly those with type 2 diabetes, are at an increased risk of suffering from type 3 diabetes. 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.

Diagnosis of type 3 Diabetes

There are no specific tests for the diagnosis of type 3 Diabetes however, Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed based on a neurological examination, medical history, and neurophysiological testing.

A primary care provider may ask several questions about your family history and your symptoms. If they suspect a possibility of type 3 diabetes they will refer you to Palmetto Endocrinology and or neurology for further testing.

If you have symptoms of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s and haven’t been diagnosed with either one, the healthcare provider may suggest a fasting blood sugar test and a glycated haemoglobin test.

In case the results are positive, it’s advisable to start your treatment as early as possible to minimise the potential damage to the body and more specifically the brain and curb the progression of dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

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.

Unfortunately, like the other types of diabetes, there is no cure for type 3 diabetes, but doctors prescribe drugs to manage its symptoms. For example, Aducanumab is a medication that helps reduce 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. 

Preventing Type 3 Diabetes

Eat Brain-Friendly Foods

Eating well is good for your overall physical as well as your mental health. However, certain foods are particularly beneficial in keeping your brain healthy and safe from degenerative conditions like type 3 diabetes. So fill half of your plate 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. Here’s a detailed list of brain healthy food to boost memory functions

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

Body weight and insulin resistance are directly related. This means that weight gain leads to increased 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. This is bad news for your brain.

Try calming practices such as yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness to reduce stress and help you feel more relaxed. In addition, aim for at least seven or eight hours of sleep every night. 

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. This minimises the risk of type 3 diabetes. 

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 exercises and strength training. 

Monitor Your Blood Glucose Levels

As aforementioned, monitoring your blood glucose levels is imperative to the succession of Type 2 diabetes by Type 3 diabetes. Blood Glucose Monitoring devices are available in the market now, like the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) which can alert us if our glucose level rises above the recommended level.

CGM is a small and powerful health-tech device that helps you track blood sugar levels in real time. This helps you decide which foods to consume and when to burn your calories.

Since CGM systems give real-time data, one can make informed decisions about their food choices, activity status, and other proportional trends of their transformational journey. These devices are designed to alert the user when the blood-sugar levels touch an alarming high or low level helping one take necessary actions to tackle it. 

The CGM incorporated with the new HealthifyPro helps you get a consistent and holistic understanding of your health. The CGM syncs with your phone and gives you concurrent data about your blood sugar levels. Your Pro coach can then review how your glucose changes with respect to your unique diet, exercise, medication and overall lifestyle, and help you create a fitness plan customised to you. 

HealthifyPro is a complete package that comes with a Smart Scale to keep a tab 11+ body metrics, a metabolic panel to keep a check on your metabolic health, Pro coaches to give you personalised feedback and smart AI assistance along with the advanced CGM experience at your fingertips. 


Type 3 diabetes or brain diabetes refers to the condition of developing Alzheimer’s disease from 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 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 under research. 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 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 can be described as age-related insulin resistance that occurs in lean, older adults. These adults have a healthy weight and BMI and diabetes  occurs as a subsequent condition of another disease. 

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. Overall, most signs of type 3 diabetes mimic the symptoms of dementia. 

Q. Can Type 3 diabetes be reversed?

A. While there is no cure for type 3 diabetes you can control it to a great extent 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 genes and type 3 diabetes. Some people develop the ailment from a combination of both genetic and environmental aspects. 

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.

External Sources

  1. Type 2 Diabetes as a Risk Factor for Dementia in Women Compared With Men: A Pooled Analysis of 2.3 Million People Comprising More Than 100,000 Cases of Dementia: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4722942/
  1. Risk Factors Contributing to Type 2 Diabetes and Recent Advances in the Treatment and Prevention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166864/#B50
  2. A prospective study of whole-grain intake and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in US women:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166864/#B50 
  1. Diet and risk of Type II diabetes: the role of types of fat and carbohydrate: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11508264/
  1. Alzheimer’s Disease Is Type 3 Diabetes–Evidence Reviewed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/
  1. Type 3 Diabetes and Its Role Implications in Alzheimer’s Disease: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7246646/
  1. The Role of Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 (GLP1) in Type 3 Diabetes: GLP-1 Controls Insulin Resistance, Neuroinflammation and Neurogenesis in the Brain: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5713459/

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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