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Alzheimer’s Disease, Sugar and Diabetes

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sugarIt’s not news that sugar is bad for you. We’ve known for years the white stuff will rot your teeth and cause weight gain. Sugar isn’t an essential nutrient, either. We can definitely live without it. Because the typical American eats a lot of processed foods, sugar (and salt) are packed hidden in everything. Food companies know that we like that tastes good and that means sugar.

Evidence is mounting that sugar is toxic. Sure, a treat now and then is fine and part of living… but we’re consuming sugar at levels never before seen in history… and our bodies are paying the price.

A few months ago, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman wrote an opinion piece called “Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes?” In the piece, he mentioned a recent cover story in the New Scientist called “Food For Thought: What You Eat May Be Killing Your Brain.” In short, eating a lot of sugar (or non-traditional sweet foods laden with sugars like breads and even canned soup) can cause insulin resistance. This actually causes elevated insulin levels, which does harm to blood vessels. When cells become insulin resistant, memory loss begins. Disorientation may set in. You may lose aspects of your personality. This is Alzheimer’s Disease.

“A neuropathologist named Alois Alzheimer noticed, over a century ago, that an odd form of protein was taking the place of normal brain cells,” writes Bittman. “How those beta amyloid plaques (as they’re called) get there has been a mystery. What’s becoming clear, however, is that a lack of insulin — or insulin resistance — not only impairs cognition but seems to be implicated in the formation of those plaques.”

Doctors already know that diabetics are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Ditto for the obese. And yes, you can be obese and not have diabetes just as you can be rail thin and be diabetic. [Of note: the World Health Organization estimates 1.4 billion adults over age 20 are either overweight or obese.] Still, it is worth considering that an overabundance of bad foods may lead to insulin resistance, and this can result in Alzheimer’s. While researchers haven’t unlocked all the mysteries of Alzheimer’s yet, one thing is clear: it wouldn’t hurt any of us to eat a few more salads and less ice cream cones.

Written by Bethany Village

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