With all of the recent controversy surrounding sugar-sweetened beverages, FoodFacts.com has been busy looking at some of the other information available to us regarding sugar intake in our diets. We found some recent information that revisits an extremely important topic that’s certainly worth showcasing here.
Since 2005 there have been studies done that reflect on the connection between Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes. It appears the disease may actually be a form of diabetes that could well be brought on by diet.
The studies that have been done focus on insulin. Insulin is released by the body to help cells absorb glucose that’s needed for energy. Our cells can hold a certain amount of sugar and the excess is converted to fat. Blood sugar (glucose) comes from sugar and carbohydrates. Insulin helps to keep our blood vessels healthy and also helps the neurons in our brains to absorb glucose, which strengthens the neurons.
While Type 1 diabetes results from an immune system response that destroys insulin producing cells, Type 2 diabetes results from environmental factors. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about ten percent of diabetic cases – Type 2 accounts for the remainder. Environmental factors are code words here for our diet.
Insulin resistance occurs when a diabetic’s cells don’t respond to the insulin in their bodies. So when the insulin notifies the cells to pick up the glucose in the blood stream, the cells ignore it. The insulin repeatedly notifies the cells when sugary foods are eaten and overloads them with “messages”. The cells become resistant and the process that insulin is responsible for can’t occur. Notably insulin-resistance can cause a diabetic to become disoriented and even lose memories. The neuropathologist whom Alzheimer’s is named for discovered the formation of protein plaques in the brain, replacing normal brain cells. What is being found now, though, is that lack of insulin and insulin resistance is linked to the formation of the plaques found with the disease. Experiments have been performed on rats that blocked the insulin to their brains. The result was that they began exhibiting signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
It has been shown that diabetics are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. While diabetes isn’t thought to actually cause the debilitating disease, its presence seems to be connected to its development. Type 2 diabetes is a disease people can be genetically predisposed to (as are most diseases that are caused by environmental factors). Since diet is such a powerful influence on their development of Type 2 diabetes, it stands to reason that it is also a powerful influence on the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Sugar is being implicated as a culprit in the current war against obesity. But that seems to be only one of the problems being associated with its over-consumption. It’s not only sugary beverages we need to be concerned with – our food supply is saturated with processed products that contain added sugars. Perhaps greater research and publicity around this issue will capture the attention of consumers and cause real changes to the American diet.
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