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Alzheimer's is a growing problem

Published July 13. 2013 09:04AM

Dear Editor,

Alzheimer's disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S., and very soon it will become as common as diabetes and obesity are today. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, and results in memory loss and severe thinking and behavioral problems.

It was thought to be a mystery disease that just "came on" people as they aged, striking without a cause, or because of "hardening of the arteries."

Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and diet, but did you know that diabetics are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than other people?

More and more research indicates that Alzheimer's disease is directly related to the brain's impaired response to insulin. The amount of insulin the brain of Alzheimer's patients is lower than normal, and the low levels are found in the part of the brain where the most damage is done. Insulin regulates the body's blood sugar. It causes you cells to pick up sugar from your blood and uses the sugar as energy. When you eat a high fat, high sugar diet, the cells are overwhelmed by all the sugar, and they stop reacting to the insulin. This is called "insulin resistance." If this condition goes unattended, type 2 diabetes sets in.

Type 3 diabetes is a condition that occurs when the brain doesn't produce enough insulin. In the absence of insulin, the brain is affected much the same way that the body is with type 1 and 2 diabetes. Research on mice links Alzheimer's with processed food. When mice were fed junk food for nine months, they showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles that are strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease. These findings show that a diet rich in fat, sugar, and cholesterol, in connection with genetic factors, could negatively affect several brain substances that could contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

The levels of insulin and its receptors go down significantly in the brain during early Alzheimers disease, and it continues as the disease progresses. Although insulin is usually associate with keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, it also plays a role in brain signaling. In an animal study in 2012, scientists brought on dementia by disrupting the proper signaling of insulin in the brain.

Alzheimer's patients have shown the same abnormalities in insulin levels as diabetics. Type 2 diabetes is associated with eating large quantities of hyper processed foods. A high, non-fiber diet is an underlying cause of insulin resistance that typically leads to type 2 diabetes. These goods have caused type 2 diabetes to nearly triple in the past 40 years. When insulin resistance occurs because of the excess sugar from these foods, the left over sugar travels through the body, and can cause heart disease, nerve damage, and ocular degeneration. When the damage reaches the brain, memory function is impaired, and disorientation sets in; Alzheimer's develops.

We need to dramatically cut down on sugar in our diets. As we overwhelm our bodies with consistently high levels of sugar, our body and brain will eventually shut down its insulin signaling, which leads to the impairment of our thinking and memory abilities; eventually causing permanent brain damage. Consuming more than 2 grams of fructose regularly will dramatically increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Next time you bite into a fast food meal, or eat hyper processes food (that is, anything but the natural stuff), ask yourself if it's really worth the risk that you're taking. Did you know that the brain is only about 2 percent of a person's body mass, but requires about 20 percent of its oxygen and calories? Don't we owe it to our brain to keep it healthy so we don't wind up as another Alzheimer's statistic?

Faye Ruckhardt


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