While reading one of my favorite nutrition newsletters, Nutrition Action Health Letter, I came across a new approach to insulin therapy using intranasal insulin to boost cognitive ability.
In the January/February 2014 issue, the feature article, “Trouble Ahead? How to Keep Your Brain Sharp” highlights this research through a sub-article called “Insulin, by a Nose.” After realizing that patients with prediabetes had low insulin levels in their brain (despite high insulin blood levels), they started giving insulin nasal sprays. Researchers at Wake Forest with the Study of Nasal Insulin to Fight Forgetfulness (SNIFF) tested patients with mild memory impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. They found that there is a strong connection between insulin and memory. (Click here to read the article)
As diabetes educators, we know that insulin has receptors in the brain working on glucose metabolism. What I didn’t realize is that those insulin receptors also work closely with memory formation and retention. When there is a problem with those insulin receptors, memory is affected.
I found out that they are now recruiting patients for the next phase of the SNIFF study to administer intranasal insulin and look at the effect on patient’s abilities to complete memory tests and improvements on daily functions.