A recent article about Alzheimer’s in a major health publication stated that “Age is the biggest risk factor for the disease.” The author was referring to the fact that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s doubles every five years in people over 65. Just in case you need another reason to cut back on junk food, it now turns out that Alzheimer’s could well be a form of diet-induced diabetes. Most of us are familiar with two types of diabetes. Alzheimer’s disease is the end stage manifestation after a significant number of neurons have “starved to death” due to a loss of their ability to metabolize glucose. By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans. PET scans show that AD patients have as much as a 45% reduction in CMRglu compared to healthy people of the same age. Physical activity, independent of weight, is associated with a lower risk of AD, making it the only proven neuroprotective therapy.
After careful study of their subjects, the researchers discovered that the brain was also responsible to producing small amounts of insulin. Another study imaged brains of 94 people in their 70s and found obese participants’ brains looked 16 years older. For all of you junk food addicts out there, know that unhealthy eating habits lead to obesity and obesity leads to diabetes. It’s true. This makes the insulin even more insistent and, to make matters worse, all those elevated insulin levels are bad for your blood vessels. Genetics, exercise and social networks could be at work, too, according to Angela Winkler a Ph.D. In people who progressed from normal to mild cognitive impairment (a precursor to AD), CMRglu was 15% reduced at baseline, with an annual rate of decline at 2.4%.
Improve your magnesium levels. When brain cells become insulin-resistant, memory loss and disorientation can present. Even more concerning is the possibility that characteristics of your personality can be lost. The insulin produced by the brain wards off amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligands (ADDLs)that destroy those receptors. Healthy grains such as wild rice and quinoa, and starchy tubers like sweet potatoes should be eaten in moderation. White potatoes and refined grain products should be eliminated, as well as concentrated sweets. But you don’t have to know all the chemistry behind the glycemic index and how inflammation works in the body to get the brain-protecting benefits of a low glycemic diet.
Even for the lucky ones this is terrible news, because 5.4 million Americans (nearly 2 percent, for those keeping score at home) have the disease, the care for which — along with other dementias — will cost around $200 billion this year.