The Link Between Blood Sugar and Alzheimer’s
According to Dr. Mercola, Alzheimer’s disease affects an estimated 5.4 million Americans. That number is expected to triple by 2050. Dementia is the umbrella terminology for neuro-degenerative disorders with symptoms of mental deterioration. These symptoms interfere with a person’s daily life and they are not a natural part of the aging process. They can include difficulties with communication, memory, and thinking. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin slowly and get worse over time.
What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease?
Scientists are not totally sure why some older people develop Alzheimer’s and others do not, but they are discovering a link between the disease and elevated blood sugar. They are also sure that the symptoms Alzheimer’s causes come from two main types of nerve damage:
Neurofibrillary tangles in which nerve cells get tangled Protein deposits referred to as beta-amyloid plaques that build up in the brain.
People with diabetes have elevated levels of sugar in their blood. Excessive sugar in blood damages cells by a process referred to as glycation. Damaging the MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) protein inhibits brain cells that are responsible for removing waste… plaque. Glycolysis supports multiple functions in the brain including how the brain cells convert sugar into energy. Glycolysis also facilitates communication between brain cells and disposes of the toxins/plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.
Amyloid protein clumps together and form plaques which are discovered in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. When they clump together, they get stuck between the nerve cells in the brain and prevent signals from being transmitted. Lack of nerve cells communication is a central characteristic of Alzheimer’s. High blood sugar is linked to higher levels of the amyloid protein. Dr. David Holtzman, a neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis explains, “The risk for dementia is elevated about twofold in people who have diabetes or metabolic syndrome.”
What Can You Do…?
Manage your blood sugar levels. Increased blood sugar results in increased amyloid plaques.
Work out. Exercise will help your cells use insulin better and help you manage your blood sugar and avoid too much insulin in your blood and brain. Physical activity brings oxygen-rich blood to your brain, and it lowers your risk of heart disease.
Check your weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose and start to work on shedding those pounds and keeping them off, if also could help lower your risk.
Metformin. In a study of more than 15,000 people older than 55 who had type 2 diabetes, those who took metformin (Fortamet, Glucophage, Glumetza, Riomet) were less likely to get Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia than those who took other diabetes drugs.
Don’t smoke. Avoid all forms of tobacco.
Challenge your mind. People who keep learning and stay social may be less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not completely clear yet, but the mental stimulation may be like a workout for your brain.