It was shown many years ago that if the brain’s ability to produce energy was reduced, there would be a dramatic increase in the sensitivity of brain cells to excitotoxic damage — no matter what caused the loss of energy.
When this happens — for example, because of a sudden decrease in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) — your brain releases large amounts of glutamate, which in turn makes the brain very hyperactive and can even result in seizures or a coma.
Repeated episodes like this, as one sees in Type 1 diabetes and people with reactive hypoglycemia, eventually leads to degeneration of certain parts of the brain.
Based on this knowledge and my observation that people with Alzheimer’s disease (especially in its early stages) behave very much like people experiencing hypoglycemia, I suggested that Alzheimer’s dementia may be a form of isolated brain hypoglycemia.
As far as brain cells are concerned, that is exactly what it is, because they are starved for glucose. My personal experience taught me that the dementia in Alzheimer’s patients seems to fluctuate throughout the day. Their good spells seem to follow having a meal or a sweet drink. This has now been confirmed in studies.
Yet if an Alzheimer’s patient continues to consume sweet drinks or sugary foods, he or she will get much worse, and the disease will progress faster.
This happens for the same reason that Type 2 diabetes gets worse if a person drinks sweetened drinks over a long period. Glucose (sugar) in high concentrations acts like a poison, especially to the brain.
When the brain’s ability to use glucose (its principle fuel) is impaired, microglia are activated and the levels of glutamate and other excitotoxins rise significantly. This also triggers brain inflammation, which further worsens excitotoxicity.
But why does the brain develop insulin resistance? Research, both in animals and humans, has found that the most common cause is consumption of large amounts of high fructose corn syrup and other sugars. High fructose corn syrup is the major culprit — and it is found in a great number of processed foods and drinks.
We hear a lot about fats, especially saturated fats, causing insulin resistance. But in analyzing articles on the subject, I found that while they all used a combination of high carbohydrate/high saturated fats, the sugar alone seemed to be the major culprit in producing the insulin resistance.
Americans consume massive amounts of sugary foods and drinks. The insulin-resistance diseases that are increasing the fastest include:
• Type 2 diabetes
• Metabolic syndrome
• Polycystic ovary syndrome
• Fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH)
Particularly alarming is the last of these — fatty liver disease, which is growing by leaps and bounds in this country.
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