Risk Of Cognitive Impairment
Sugar, in particular, has been implicated in Alzheimers disease. Some scientists even refer to Alzheimers as Type 3 diabetes because of the difficulty Alzheimers brains seem to have in breaking down glucose, the brains main source of energy. High levels of blood sugar have been shown to cause memory problems even when they are not at levels that qualify as diabetic and the fluctuation in blood sugar is mild. And of course, Type 2 diabetes itself is a risk factor for dementia, raising the lifetime likelihood of being diagnosed by 75 to 100 percent. Some scientists have even shown that diabetes drugs show promise in treating Alzheimers.
Alzheimers Vs Dementia: Whats The Difference
Both Alzheimers disease and dementia involve cognitive decline, but not all dementia patients have Alzheimers. Dementia is one of the main symptoms of Alzheimers. Alzheimers is the most common type of dementia.
Alzheimers disease is caused by misshapen protein structures in the brain . Over time, the malformations kill the brain cells theyre in, limiting cognitive function.
Because Alzheimers is defined by these microscopic changes in the brain, doctors cant say for certain whether a person has Alzheimers without performing an autopsy.
The early symptoms of Alzheimers disease include:
- Difficulty finding the right words when speaking or writing
- Getting lost easily
When a patient starts to develop noticeable symptoms, Alzheimers medications may help. However, making diet and lifestyle changes seems to be just as effective, if not more so.
Sugar’s ‘tipping Point’ Link To Alzheimer’s Disease Revealed
For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar.
Diabetes patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy individuals. In Alzheimer’s disease abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline.
Scientists already knew that glucose and its break-down products can damage proteins in cells via a reaction called glycation but the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s was not understood.
But now scientists from the University of Bath Departments of Biology and Biochemistry, Chemistry and Pharmacy and Pharmacology, working with colleagues at the Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases, King’s College London, have unraveled that link.
The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
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High Triglycerides And Blood Sugar Tied To Greater Alzheimers Risk
People who started out with higher levels of HDL cholesterol were 13 percent less likely to develop Alzheimers disease by the end of the study period.
At the same time, younger adults were 34 percent more likely to develop Alzheimers disease when they had high triglycerides unhealthy fats that can make blood stickier, thicker, and more likely to clot and 12 percent more likely to have Alzheimers if they had high blood sugar.
While our findings confirm other studies that linked cholesterol and glucose levels measured in blood with future risk of Alzheimers disease, we have shown for the first time that these associations extend much earlier in life than previously thought, said the senior study author, Lindsay Farrer, PhD, in a statement. Dr. Farrer is the chief of biomedical genetics at Boston University School of Medicine.
Many people dont give their cholesterol levels much thought before they reach middle age. And when they do pay attention, they tend to focus on the heart disease risk associated with elevated levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the bad kind that can accumulate in blood vessels and lead to clots and heart attacks. They dont focus as much on the potential impact of high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol on their future brain health.
Small changes can make a big difference, the study results suggest.
How Do You Reduce The Amount Of Sugar You Eat Daily
Reducing sugar intake is a relatively straightforward thing, but it is more difficult than often expected. There is sugar in nearly everything we consume, from our morning coffee to our toothpaste. Consequently, staying mindful of what you are eating and drinking throughout the day, every day, is the key way to minimize the amount of sugar you are consuming.
An easy way to avoid large quantities of sugar is to read the labels on food and drink you purchase. For example, if you enjoy coffee in the morning , read the Daily Value and Nutrition Info labels on the products you purchase to make that coffee. Perhaps there are low-sugar, or Diet alternatives to your favorite foods and beverages. This will also help combat sugar cravings, which are big factors in dementia, and so you will be feeling better every day, but also defending your body from things it does not need.
Another way to limit the sugar you consume every day is to switch out what you eat for dessert every night. Obviously, some nights it will be impossible to not enjoy pie, or cakes, or ice cream, etc., but there are many times when fruit could be an alternate option for deserts. For example, perhaps on the weekends, you treat yourself to sugary delights like pies, while on weekdays, fruits are the go-to dessert.
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Alzheimers Diet: 16 Foods To Fight Dementia + What To Avoid
The best Alzheimers diet is Dr. Dale Bredesens KetoFLEX 12/3 diet. This slightly-flexible ketogenic diet can lower your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or dementia, especially in the earliest stages of cognitive decline.
This revolutionary diet also encourages 12-hour fasting periods so the body has more time to repair cell damage. Make sure to not eat within 3 hours of going to bed either.
By eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, and even an occasional glass of red wine, you can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimers.
Ingredients Of The Mind Diet
The MIND diet focuses on plant-based foods linked to dementia prevention. It encourages eating from 10 healthy food groups:
- Leafy green vegetables, at least 6 servings/week
- Other vegetables, at least 1 serving/day
- Berries, at least 2 servings/week
- Whole grains, at least 3 servings/day
- Fish, 1 serving/week
- Olive oil
The MIND diet limits servings of red meat, sweets, cheese, butter/margarine and fast/fried food.
*Be careful about how much alcohol you drink. How the body handles alcohol can change with age. Learn more about alcohol and older adults.
Some, but not all, observational studies those in which individuals are observed or certain outcomes are measured, without treatment have shown that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk for dementia. These studies compared cognitively normal people who ate a Mediterranean diet with those who ate a Western-style diet, which contains more red meat, saturated fats and sugar.
Evidence supporting the MIND diet comes from observational studies of more than 900 dementia-free older adults, which found that closely following the MIND diet was associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimers disease and a slower rate of cognitive decline.
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Sugars Sweet Spot Link To Alzheimers Disease Discovered
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The findings appear to centre on the damage high blood sugar levels does to a key enzyme in the inflammatory response in the conditions early stages.
High blood sugar levels or hyperglycaemia is one of the hallmarks of diabetes as well as obesity and potentially places those with these conditions at a heightened risk of brain complications.
Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimers disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets, said study author Dr Omar Kassaar, from the University of Bath.
In a joint collaboration involving scientists from the University of Bath and Kings College London, brain tissue from individuals with Alzheimers was studied.
The team were looking for evidence of glycation a reaction that involves breaking down glucose into products that can damage proteins contained in cells.
The scientists noted that in the early stages of Alzheimers glycation played a major role in altering the function of an enzyme known as MIF which mediates the immune response and regulates insulin levels.
More relevantly, MIF plays a role in preventing the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain during Alzheimers disease.
The tipping point in disease onset
It may be that inhibition of MIFs role as a result of the glycation process may well be the tipping point in disease progression.
Metformin treatment clue
Of Course Theres More To The Story
Before you despair or give up your favorite diet beverage forever, keep in mind that a study of this sort has some major limitations that can lead to faulty conclusions. For example:
To understand how concerned we should be and how artificial sweeteners might cause these health problem , additional research will be needed.
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New Research Links Sugar And Alzheimers
A group of researchers from the Kings College London and the have discovered a potential link between excessive sugar consumption and the Alzheimers disease. They detected this link by working with the previously discovered connection between sugar and cell damage. The researchers found a way to tag sugar-damaged proteins with fluorescent markers, which led them to their recent discovery.
Alzheimers Refresher -> Alzheimers is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and overall behaviour and it is the most common form of dementia, which currently does not have a cure.
Managing And Addressing Cravings
Whether your loved one is craving sugar and experiencing weight gain or you are having trouble getting him or her to eat at all, there are few basic guidelines to ensure proper nutrition.
1.Eat in a quiet and calm room with limited distractions so that your loved one can focus on eating.2.Eat meals together which can increase the likelihood that your loved one will eat the healthy meal provided.3.Pack in protein. Even if your loved one cannot chew meat well, try eggs, milk-based pudding, or even protein powder.4.Cut food into small pieces to make eating easier if your loved one can no longer use utensils.5.Puree vegetables and add them to a shake if your loved one will not eat vegetables on their own.6.Strengthen the prefrontal cortex responsible for dietary self-restraint by avoiding alcohol, getting adequate sleep, and exercising.7.At the end of life,allow them to indulge. Registered Dietician, Jillian Ball of Ball & Associates Nutrition Counseling says:
Food is one of the last things people can enjoy when theyre sick.
She cautions that if they still have a long life ahead of them to watch their sugar intake and monitor blood sugar if they have diabetes.
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Whats Good For Your Heart Is Good For Your Brain
Dr. Marc Agronin, Alzheimers researcher and author of The Dementia Caregiver, explained that a basic rule of thumb is that whats good for your heart is good for your brain.
What we eat over our lifetime has a dramatic impact on our health and risk for many diseases, including dementia, said Agronin.
He said a diet weighted toward healthy foods can help. These foods include:
- olive and nut oils
- whole grains and legumes
- less highly processed sugars and red meats
Eating healthy is essential for controlling weight, glucose, and cholesterol levels which are key risk factors for both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular health.
According to Lonsdorf, Research on overall diet is still in early stages, however, the following are associated with lower risk: Mediterranean diet, DASH diet , the MIND diet , and the Anti-inflammatory diet.
How Does Sugar Factor In
So, how does sugar play a role in brain disease? For one, the pathways of diabetes development seem to affect how Alzheimers will occur. It also tells us that too much sugar leads to diabetes and is a major red flag .
Some scientific experts believe that burning too much glucose may cause disruption in your brain. This is also why approaches like the UCLA Alzheimers study, where a lower-sugar diet was consumed, seem to workat least so far. In fact, Alzheimers disease was named type 3 diabetes because your brain can produce insulin, as well . The catch? Your brain cells need this insulin to survive. And if disruption occurs, your brain cells are at risk. A 2013 study in The New England Journal Of Medicine found that higher glucose levels may be a risk factor for dementiaeven among people without diabetes.
Another red flag is the fact that diabetics lose gray matter more than those who do not suffer from diabetes . Why is this important? This loss of gray matter is a contributing cause of Alzheimers. And if we refer back to Dr. Emily Deans article, we will see that there is now evidence that a Western diet is linked to a smaller hippocampusone of the areas in your brain most affected by Alzheimers. Things arent looking good for a high-sugar diet here.
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Higher Brain Glucose Levels May Mean More Severe Alzheimers
NIH study shows connections between glucose metabolism, Alzheimers pathology, symptoms.
For the first time, scientists have found a connection between abnormalities in how the brain breaks down glucose and the severity of the signature amyloid plaques and tangles in the brain, as well as the onset of eventual outward symptoms, of Alzheimers disease. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging , part of the National Institutes of Health, and appears in the Nov. 6, 2017, issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Led by Madhav Thambisetty, M.D., Ph.D., investigator and chief of the Unit of Clinical and Translational Neuroscience in the NIAs Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers looked at brain tissue samples at autopsy from participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging , one of the worlds longest-running scientific studies of human aging. The BLSA tracks neurological, physical and psychological data on participants over several decades.
For some time, researchers have thought about the possible links between how the brain processes glucose and Alzheimers, said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. Research such as this involves new thinking about how to investigate these connections in the intensifying search for better and more effective ways to treat or prevent Alzheimers disease.
NIHTurning Discovery Into Health®
What About Vitamins And Supplements
Observational studies and clinical trials have looked at many over-the-counter vitamins and dietary supplements, including vitamins B and E and gingko biloba, to prevent Alzheimers disease or cognitive decline. The idea is that these dietary add-ons might attack oxidative damage or inflammation, protect nerve cells, or influence other biological processes involved in Alzheimers.
Despite early findings of possible benefits for brain health, no vitamin or supplement has been proven to work in people. Overall, evidence is weak as many studies were too small or too short to be conclusive.
Take DHA for example. Studies in mice showed that this omega-3 fatty acid, found in salmon and certain other fish, reduced beta-amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimers. However, clinical trials in humans have had mixed results. In a study of 485 older adults with age-related cognitive decline, those who took a DHA supplement daily for 24 weeks showed improved learning and memory, compared to those who took a placebo. Another study of 4,000 older adults conducted primarily to study eye disease concluded that taking omega-3 supplements, alone or with other supplements, did not slow cognitive decline.
For more information, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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Can Vitamins And Supplements Decrease The Risk Of Alzheimers
Not all that we eat falls into the category of food, and many vitamins or supplements have also been studied in relationship to Alzheimers disease risk. We certainly need enough of the essential vitamins such as folic acid, B12, E, and D. Excessive E or D, however, accumulate in our fat tissues and are not beneficial. Curcumin, omega 3 fatty acids, and cocoa are among the dietary additives still being researched for a deeper understanding of their risks and benefits. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association cautioned us that many dietary supplements marketed for the prevention or treatment of cognitive decline are not well supported by credible evidence.5
How Is Sugar Linked To Parkinsons
Research has linked sugar and Parkinsons in a number of ways:
- An increase in sugar cravings may be a side effect of the types of microorganisms that live in our gut that can change in people with Parkinsons.
- Some people report that eating sugary foods makes their Parkinson’s symptoms worse but this has yet to be proven through scientific research.
- Diabetes has been shown to increase the risk of neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinsons.
Research into the impact of diabetes both type 1 and type 2 on the brain is a hot topic and the potential connection to Parkinsons is becoming clearer.
High blood sugar levels can cause the brain to age and shrink. It can also lead to small-vessel disease reducing blood flow to the brain and increasing the risk of vascular dementia.
These effects are so significant that scientists are developing ways to try to combat the neurological consequences of diabetes. In America, researchers are testing if nasal sprays containing insulin can boost the areas of the brain associated with memory. Results showing improved cognition in healthy volunteers have begun attracting attention in Alzheimers research.
Our results indicate that diabetes promotes striatal oxidative stress, alters dopamine neurotransmission, and increases vulnerability to neurodegenerative damage leading to motor impairment. Iara PérezTaboadaet al., 2020. Movement Disorders
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