Since June 21 is Alzheimers And Brain Awareness Month, we thought this was an appropriate article that ties in Alzheimers, Macular Degeneration, Sugar and obesity.
I follow Alzheimer’s research closely since many of the genes involved are also associated with macular degeneration and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases. A couple of years ago, one of my favorite English journals called the New Scientist included a blockbuster story that teased out the connection between Alzheimer’s and sugar.
Unfortunately, almost all Americans consume way too much sugar, even though we know the nasty habit is making us horribly sick, causing high rates of obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes, which is common in Alzheimer’s patients as well as with a lot of AMD patients.
Type 2 diabetes is the chronic condition of excess blood glucose with symptoms including frequent bladder, kidney and skin infections, fatigue, excess hunger and thirst, erectile dysfunction, vision loss and impaired cognition, as well as an entire host of horrific disease outcomes, including diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to toe, foot and sometimes leg amputation.
The New Scientist article reminded us that insulin’s job is to regulate blood sugar by sending the cue for muscles, liver and fat cells to extract sugar from the blood and either use it for energy or store it as fat. Sadly, when the body experiences constant sugar overload, a condition called insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, causes the pancreas to produce too much insulin at the same time excess glucose is building up in the blood. The excess insulin is not taken into our cells once our overworked insulin receptor sites become too fatigued to do their job.
When we develop insulin resistance, insulin spikes overwhelm the brain and bad things happen. The brain’s overused insulin receptors also stop working, impairing our ability to think and form memories before leading to permanent neural damage and eventually Alzheimer’s, particularly in those genetically at risk for the disease.
Researchers at both Brown University and UCLA have created insulin resistance, impaired brain function and Alzheimer’s within six weeks in both mice and rats by feeding them excessive portions of sugar.
Another study from the University of Washington found that rats fed an excessively high-fat diet for a year lost their ability to regulate insulin, developed diabetes and showed signs of brain deterioration.
The New Scientist reported that type 2 diabetes rates have tripled in the U.S. since 1980. The connection to Alzheimer’s is that insulin also regulates neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, which is crucial for memory and learning as well as the function and growth of blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygen and glucose.
New Scientist also reported that 19 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, with 79 million more considered pre-diabetic. If Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes and macular degeneration share similar mechanisms, levels of resource-depleting impaired vision and dementia may follow a similar trajectory as these millions of nutrient-deficient folks who are starving in the land of plenty.
Scary numbers: 115 million people globally will have Alzheimer’s by 2050. 36 percent of people in the U.S. are obese, putting them at greater risk of Alzheimer’s. The 2011 cost of caring for the 5.4 million adults in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s exceeded $130 billion. We can only imagine how high that number will be by 2025.
Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, and the Biosyntrx staff
PEARL: Give up or cut way back on sugar and most processed junk food and you will most likely live a longer and healthier life. And never stop working to change federal farm and food industry policies that encourage and subsidize the production of inexpensive sugar and oils included in center-of-the-supermarket, overly processed, high-calorie junk food. This practice is destroying the health of our nation and playing havoc with our dwindling health care dollars.
References including a list of nutrients clinically recommended to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, and included in our multiples are included in the Friday Pearl on the web site, plus a surgical instrument announcement from our friends at Crestpoint Management can be found here.