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Is Sugar Linked To Dementia

High Blood Sugar Can Cause A Stroke

Sugar Linked to Dementia

Insulin resistance affects the flow of blood to the brain. When brain cells dont get enough blood, brain function suffers. A decrease in blood flow can lead to mini-strokes. High blood sugar levels can also make the blood vessels weak, like old leaky pipes. Strokes are one of the factors in developing dementia.

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Diabetes And Dementia Risk: Another Good Reason To Keep Blood Sugar In Check

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There are many reasons to avoid getting diabetes, or to keep it controlled if you already have it: Higher risks for heart disease, stroke and for having a foot or leg amputation. But here’s another one: It’s a major risk factor for dementia.

While researchers are still investigating what causes that increased risk, one thing they do know is it’s linked to highs and lows in the body’s blood sugar levels.

“Whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, glycemic control is very important” for maintaining good brain health, said Rachel Whitmer, chief of the division of epidemiology at University of California, Davis and associate director of the school’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. “This is another motivation to have good control.”

Good management of blood glucose levels is one of seven lifestyle changes people can make to support better heart and brain health, by the American Heart Association. It’s a step that could potentially help more than 34.2 million people in the U.S. living with diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vast majority of people with diabetes have Type 2, which becomes more prevalent as people get older, as does dementia. It happens when the body can’t properly use the insulin it makes to control blood sugar levels. It develops over many years and is often associated with being overweight or obese. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body stops making insulin.

Just A Bag Of Popcorns And My Grandmother Almost Went Nuts

My family had the most shocking discovery about sugar last year.

During Christmas, I brought my grandmother down for a walk and to reward her for exercising, I gave her a bag of specialty popcorns that I bought. We dont really have much sweets at home so this was a once-off treat for her.

The next day, I realised that the whole bag of popcorn had gone missing because my grandmother ate all of it.

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Hungry Low Blood Sugar Linked To Dementia And Development Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Blood sugar, it can be argued, is what keeps our bodies functioning properly.

Sugars enter the blood after being consumed and digested to their simplest forms. However, when disease alters normal levels of these sugars in the blood, other impairments can occur.

Blood sugar level is carefully monitored by the body. If there is too much sugar, the body releases a hormone called insulin to signal the rest of the body to absorb more of the sugar. Similarly, if there is too little sugar, the body has signals to increase levels of sugar in the blood. However, when a person has diabetes, these monitoring systems do not work naturally and the individuals must inject insulin into their bodies so that blood sugar can decrease.

Diabetes patients often have very high blood sugar. Their bodies are never signaled to use the sugar in their blood, so it remains there. This is not optimal, as the body needs the sugars consumed. Diabetes treatments thus provide the hormone that allows for sugar absorption and use.

Often, as a result of diabetes treatments, blood sugar can get too low and is called hypoglycemia. During hypoglycemia, other studies;have found that cognitive functions are impaired: attention and motor skills are impaired and response times are much slower. Similarly, patients may suffer from headaches and become nauseous.

How Does Sugar Contribute To Dementia

Diet drinks linked to increased risk of dementia and stroke

While sugar can have negative effects, it is something that all humans need to survive and function. The problem, however, comes when people consume too much sugar, especially refined sugars. One reason for this is because too much sugar creates high blood sugar levels.

When you consume food, your body breaks it down into glucose, a type of sugar. Your stomach and small intestine takes that glucose and sends it to the bloodstream. From there, insulin takes the sugar and provides it to cells, giving them energy.

Too much sugar, however, causes your body to create more insulin. But too much insulin will cause your cells to resist the insulin, making it difficult for cells to get the sugar it needs. The sugar then remains in the blood instead of being distributed as energy.

Unlike normal cells, brain cells do not need insulin to get the sugar. They do, however, need insulin to convert sugar into energy, but high levels of insulin will prevent that conversion. Your brain will have the sugar it needs but cannot make use of it. Furthermore, without the energy, your brain cells eventually die.

Too much sugar intake will ultimately harm your brain and hurt your mental functions. This is seen as a primary link between sugar and dementia. It is also why some people refer to Alzheimers disease as type 3 diabetes.

Continue reading to learn more about dementia and how sugar intake can contribute to the disease.

Read Also: Can Low Fat Diet Cause Dementia

Whats The Life Expectancy Of Diabetes And Dementia

Life expectancy for someone living with diabetes and dementia will vary depending on many factors. Both diabetes and dementia are complex illnesses. There are many variables and potential complications that can affect an individuals life expectancy.

For example, people who dont manage their glucose levels effectively, dont exercise, or who smoke will likely have a shorter life expectancy than a person with a healthier lifestyle and stable blood glucose levels.

Still, having diabetes appears to accelerate mortality rate in people with dementia. One study found that people with both dementia and diabetes died almost twice as fast as those without diabetes.

In one Canadian study, life expectancy was shown to be significantly lower for people with diabetes compared to those without the condition. Life expectancy for women without diabetes was 85 years and life expectancy for men was about 80.2 years. Diabetes was associated with a loss in life expectancy of about 6 years for women and 5 years for men.

On average, people with Alzheimers disease live for 8 to 10 years after symptoms begin. Its possible for someone to not even start to experience symptoms of Alzheimers disease until theyre in their 90s.

People with vascular dementia live for about 5 years after symptoms begin, on average. This is a bit less than the average for Alzheimers disease.

If youre diagnosed with diabetes, its important that you work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan.

Sugar Intake Hinders Mental Capacity

Elevated blood glucose harms blood vessels. Blood vessel damage is the major cause of the vascular complications of diabetes, leading to other problems, such as damage to blood vessels in the brain and eyes causing retinopathy.

Studies of long-term diabetics show progressive brain damage leading to deficits in learning, memory, motor speed, and other cognitive functions. Frequent exposure to high glucose levels diminishes mental capacity, as higher HbA1c levels have been associated with a greater degree of brain shrinkage.

Even in those without diabetes, higher sugar consumption is associated with lower scores on tests of cognitive function. These effects are thought to be due to a combination of hyperglycemia, hypertension, insulin resistance, and elevated cholesterol.

Additional research shows that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production brain-derived neurotrophic factor , a brain chemical essential for new memory formation and learning. Lower levels of BDNF are also linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in the journal Diabetologia.

Also Check: How Does Dementia Affect Intellectual Development

Protect Your Brain Protect Your Future

A high functioning brain is one of the keys to a high quality of life. Protecting your brain from damage is important. There any many factors that contribute to dementia. Some of the factors are in your control.

Insulin resistance is thought to cause a cascade of problems in your brain. Over half of the U.S. population is likely to be insulin resistant. The good news is that insulin resistance is both preventable and treatable. You can learn more about how you can protect your brain from the harmful effects of sugar. One way to protect your brain from too much sugar is to try this next recipe as a low-sugar way to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Study Finds Individuals With High Blood Sugar Showcase Faster Rates Of Cognitive Decline

Dementia link to aggressive blood sugar control Health Minutes

As published in Diabetologia, researchers followed 5,189 people over the course of ten years. What they found was that in comparison to individuals with normal blood sugar, those with high blood sugar experienced a faster rate of cognitive decline.

Those living with prediabetes and diabetes experienced an increased rate of decline in relation to memory, orientation, and executive function. The researchers concluded that there was a link between HbA1c levels, diabetes status, and long-term cognitive decline.

Further research is now needed to determine the effect of optimal blood glucose control on the rate of decline among individuals with diabetes.

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Aggressive Treatment: Risks Vs Benefits

Alan M. Jacobson, MD, is the director of psychiatric and behavioral research at Harvard Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center.

He calls the study “compelling” but adds that more research is needed to prove that severe hypoglycemia is a cause of dementia.

“If you believe these findings, that means that just one episode of hypoglycemia can increase risk,” he tells WebMD.

The dementia study is just the latest to raise safety concerns about the use of aggressive treatment to achieve tight glucose control in older patients.

Aggressive treatment to achieve blood sugar levels similar to those seen in people without diabetes was linked to an increased risk of death in older patients with type 2 diabetes participating in a large, ongoing clinical trial sponsored by the National HeartLung and Blood Institute.

Over an average of 3.5 years of treatment, patients in the aggressive treatment arm of the study were 22% more likely to die than patients who were not treated as aggressively.

Jacobson says it is clear that a better understanding of the impact of aggressive treatment on older patients with type 2 diabetes is needed.

But he warns that it is too soon to change treatment, based on the research reported so far.

“It would be a mistake to throw the baby out with the bath,” he says. “We have a substantial body of research showing the benefits of improving glycemic control. But we also have to recognize that, like with any intervention, there may be a downside.”

How Sugar Is Linked To Dementia And How To Curb Your Sweet Cravings

Science has yet to discover the definite cause of dementia, but they certainly found out the particular factors that can increase your risk of having the disease. This includes genetics, aging, stress, and smoking.;

But many wonder if diet and certain foods can also expose one to dementia? Well, the chilling answer is YES.;

According to research, an unhealthy diet makes a senior like you vulnerable to the cognitive impairment brought by dementia. In fact, a well-established study about diet implicates sugar as the major culprit in increasing your risk to develop the disease.;

Heres why older adults and those living in senior living and memory care in Oceanside should be careful and pace themselves when eating sweets.

Read Also: Can Vascular Dementia Be Prevented

Whether Or Not Sugar Itself Is The Culprit Sugary Foods Are Linked To These Health Problems

The World Health Organisation recommends limiting free sugars to less than 10% of our total energy intake. This equates to around 12 teaspoons a day for an average adult.

But more than half of Australian adults exceed this limit, often without knowing. Free sugars dont just come from us sweetening coffees and teas or home-cooked dinners; they are added by manufacturers during processing.

Its often a surprise to learn just how many teaspoons of sugar are added to popular foods and drinks:

Most of the concern about excess sugar consumption has been focused on weight gain, and rightly so. Our livers can turn sugar into fat. Too much sugar and too much soft drink, in particular can cause fat to be deposited on our waist. This is known as visceral fat.

Visceral fat is especially harmful because it increases the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, even when blood sugar levels are higher than normal.

But what does the science say about sugar and the raft of other conditions we see in the headlines every other week? Lets look at two examples: dementia and cancer.

Dementia And Sugar Cravings: How Sweet Treats May Be Destroying Your Brain

Are Alzheimers and dementia simply linked to gluten ...

Many people have heard of different types of diets, with each one making a more outlandish claim than the last. Perhaps you have read of some of these in the aisles of convenience markets or grocery stores, with glamorous models on the front and large text proclaiming tremendous differences in weeks. Sadly, this is not the case.

However, a recent Harvard study has found that reducing the sugar in your diet can directly lead to reducing your blood sugar levels, which lowers your chance of developing dementia. Obviously, your age and the genetics you have been born with are uncontrollable factors, but what are some things that you can change? Continue reading to find out how to make yourself less susceptible to developing dementia, and if sugar can make dementia more likely or worse.

Recommended Reading: How Fast Can Vascular Dementia Progress

Stroke And Dementia Risk Linked To Artificial Sweeteners Study Suggests

Drinking a can of diet soft drink a day associated with almost three times higher risk, say researchers but critics warn against causal connection

Consuming a can a day of low- or no-sugar soft drink is associated with a much higher risk of having a stroke or developing dementia, researchers claim.

Their findings have prompted renewed questions about whether drinks flavoured with artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of serious illness, as heavily sugared drinks have already been shown to do.

Drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank artificially sweetened beverages less than once a week, according to the American researchers who carried out a study published in Stroke, the journal of the American Heart Association.

After adjustments for age, sex, education , calorific intake, diet quality, physical activity and smoking, higher recent and higher cumulative intake of artificially sweetened soft drinks were associated with an increased risk of ischaemic stroke, all-cause dementia and Alzheimers disease dementia, the co-authors write.

Those consuming at least a can of so-called diet drinks every day were 2.96 times more likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke and 2.89 times more likely to develop Alzheimers disease than those who drank them less than once a week, they found.

Low Sugar Dessert Ideas

There may be times when you make an exception to eat something sweet like a holiday or a birthday party. When you feel constantly deprived, you are more likely to binge on sweets when your self-control is tired.

Satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your blood glucose levels stable by enjoying one of these sweet and tasty low sugar desserts:

  • Pear and cheese
  • Fresh berries with whipped cream
  • Baked apple sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts
  • A small amount of dark chocolate with almonds
  • Homemade chia pudding
  • Strawberries dipped in chocolate
  • Unsweetened cream cheese on whole-grain crackers topped with sliced peaches
  • Simple frozen fruit ice cream

Recommended Reading: Do You Tell Dementia Patients The Truth

Avoid Foods With Added Sugars

Stay away from processed foods as they are the ones that contain lots of added sugars but have little to no nutrients. If you cant go cold turkey, you can gradually reduce your consumption little by little, such as eating a small bar of Snickers twice a week. Other foods that you should only eat in moderation include:

  • Candies, cakes, and cookies

The Immediate Effect Of Sugar On The Brain

Diet Soda Linked To Higher Risk Of Dementia, Stroke, Study Says

After the bag of popcorns, my grandmother started acting up.

She showed serious signs of short term memory-loss; she couldnt remember that she called my grand-aunt an hour ago.

She also started to get angry and suspicious over items that got missing .

There has been suspicions of the similarities between dementia and diabetes for some time.

According to Dr Clare Walton at the Alzheimers Society, research suggests that as changes in the pathways that transport and use glucose occur, Alzheimers disease progresses.

Also Check: Is Weight Loss A Symptom Of Dementia

Sugar Creates A Dangerous Cycle Of Insulin Resistance

Poor insulin control appears to be a risk factor for Alzheimers disease. When you eat food, carbohydrates, starches and sugar in your food are broken down into another type of sugar called glucose. As your body digests the food, the stomach and small intestine absorb the sugar and send it into your bloodstream.

The hormone insulin pulls sugar from the bloodstream and gives it to cells in the organs and muscles. This gives your cells energy.

If your blood sugar levels are too high your body releases more insulin. So, insulin is trying to give MORE sugar to cells. Your cells will try to protect themselves from the powerful effect of insulin by becoming insulin resistant.

The pancreas is the large gland that creates the hormone insulin. It responds to this resistance by releasing more insulin, which starts a dangerous cycle.

Eating sugary and high-carbohydrate foods causes high blood sugar. The body tries to control this onslaught of sugar by pumping out a lot of insulin quickly. This is an “insulin spike.”

Over time, high insulin causes cells to become resistant to insulin. Insulin resistance leads to higher blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels cause more insulin to be released. Another dangerous pattern emerges.


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