Several studies have shown that high consumption of food and drinks with added sugars is associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. Researchers at Rush University found that excess sugar in the diet is also linked to greater loss of ability to recognize objects and remember facts. They presented their findings at the recent Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.
According to Dr. Mirkin.com, other studies have demonstrated that the high rise in blood sugar that is a symptom of type 2 diabetes can trigger loss of brain function and dementia. Dr. Joel Fuhrman explains that the brain uses more energy than any other organ in the body and glucose it its primary source of fuel. But when too much dietary sugars enter the brain, they impair both our cognitive skills and our self-control.
“For many people, having a little sugar stimulates a craving for more,” says Dr. Fuhrman, adding that a study published in PLOS One revealed that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Even a single instance of elevated glucose in the bloodstream can harm the brain, causing decreased cognitive function and deficits in memory and attention.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of The Healthy Heart Miracle, explains that “the more sugar you eat, the higher the rise in blood sugar and the more sugar sticks to cells to damage them. A high rise in blood sugar increases the risk for blood vessel damage, strokes, and dementia. No tissue is spared.”
The good news is that the memory damage caused by high sugar consumption can be reversed by consuming a low-sugar diet, according to research published in the journal Appetite.
Dr. Mirkin says that many studies have demonstrated that diets that restrict sugar intake can help slow loss of mental function associated with aging and reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In particular, the MIND diet, a hybrid of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, was found to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 53% in those who followed the diet religiously and by 35% in those who followed the diet most of the time.
According to Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen, the MIND diet stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The brain-saving food plan includes at least three servings of whole grains, at least one dark leafy green salad and one other vegetable daily, along with a glass of wine. Beans and legumes should be consumed regularly along with poultry, berries, fish, and a serving of nuts as a daily snack.
Guidelines for the diet restrict butter, cheese, fried or fast food, and red meat. The MIND diet reduces inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and is rich in phytochemicals that may be helpful in removing beta amyloid plaques in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, say the doctors.
Dr. Mirkin adds that limiting added sugars to your diet can also lower your risk of dementia, along with regular exercise, engaging in both social activities and those that challenge the brain.
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