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Sugar & Alzheimer's

Friday, September 21, 2012


Today, Friday September 21st, has been declared Worldwide Alzheimer’s Day.  I follow Alzheimer’s research closely since  many of the genes involved are also associated with Macular Degeneration and other age-related neurodegenerative diseases.  

The September 3 issue of one of my favorite English journals called New Scientist  included a blockbuster story that teased out the connection between Alzheimer’s and sugar.

Unfortunately, almost all Americans consume way too much sugar, even though we know the nasty habit is making us horribly sick, causing high rates of obesity, cancer and type-2 diabetes, which is common is Alzheimer's patients, as well as lots of AMD patients.

Type-2 diabetes is the chronic condition of excess blood glucose with symptoms including frequent bladder, kidney and skin infections, fatigue, excess hunger and thirst, erectile dysfunction, vision loss and impaired cognition, as well as an entire host of horrific disease outcomes, including diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to toe, foot and sometimes leg amputation.
 
The New Scientist article reminded us that insulin’s job is to regulate blood sugar by sending the cue for muscles, liver and fat cells to extract sugar from the blood and either use it for energy or store it as fat.  Sadly, when the body experiences constant sugar overload, a condition called insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, causes the pancreas to produce too much insulin at the same time excess glucose is building up in the blood.  The excess insulin is not taken into our cells once our overworked  insulin receptor sites become too fatigued to do their job.

When we develop insulin resistance, insulin spikes overwhelm the brain and bad things happen: the brain’s overused insulin receptors also stop working, impairing our ability to think and form memories before leading to permanent neural damage and eventually Alzheimer’s, particularly in those genetically at risk for the disease.

Researchers at both Brown University and UCLA have created insulin resistance, impaired brain function  and Alzheimer’s within six weeks in both mice and rats by feeding them excessive portions of sugar.
 
Another study from the University of Washington found that rats fed an excessively high-fat diet for a year lost their ability to regulate insulin, developed diabetes and showed signs of brain deterioration.

The New Scientist  reported that type-2 diabetes rates have tripled in the U.S. since 1980.  The connection to Alzheimer’s is that insulin also regulates neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which is crucial for memory and learning, as well as the function and growth of blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygen and glucose.

The New Scientist article also reported that 19 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, with 79 million more considered pre-diabetic.  If Alzheimer’s, type-2 diabetes and macular degeneration share similar mechanisms, levels of resource-depleting impaired vision and dementia may follow a similar trajectory as these millions of nutrient deficient, starving folks in the land of plenty age.

Scary numbers: 115 million people globally will have Alzheimer's by 2050. 36% of people in the US are obese, putting them at greater risk of Alzheimer's.  The 2011 cost of caring for the 5.4 million adults in the US with Alzheimer's exceeded $130 billion. We can only imagine how high that number will be by 2025.  
 
The bottom line:  Give up sugar and most processed junk food and you will most-likely live a longer and healthier life. And, never stop working to change federal farm and food industry policies that encourage and subsidize the production of inexpensive sugar and oils included in center-of-the-supermarket overly processed high-calorie junk food.  This practice is destroying the health of our nation and playing havoc with our dwindling healthcare dollars. 

  
Ellen Troyer, MT MA
Biosyntrx, CEO / Chief Research Officer





PEARL

The good news:  Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is now suggested in a number of peer-reviewed studies to play a major role in glucose metabolism, and as a regulator of neuro-muscular communication.  Thiamine plays a role in pancreatic beta-cell function and the production of the hormone insulin. Some scientists refer to type-2 diabetes as a thiamine-deficient state.  Unfortunately, thiamine deficiency is more common in low-income populations whose diets are higher in low-cost carbohydrates and sugars.  

Biosyntrx Macula Complete and Oculair include generous amounts of the entire B complex of vitamins including thiamine. Oculair includes 20 mg and Macula Complete includes 25 mg, as thiamine hydrochloride.  In both cases, this  is the most generous amount of vitamin B1 included in any multiple designed for the eye care patient.  Generous amounts of the other B vitamins,  lipoic acid, chrominum, pine bark extract and other nutrients suggested in published clinical studies to help prevent or slow the progression of type-2 diabetes are also included in both multiples; more in Macula Complete. We also recommend that those at risk for type-2 diabetes include cold water fish in their diets at least twice a week and supplement with a quality concentrated fish oil on the days fish is not consumed. 

 
A most interesting aside: I received a fabulous research article last night from the Biosyntrx President, Dr. Spencer Thornton, that suggests vitamin B1 patches are now being used in Africa to help prevent bites from mosquitoes infected with  malaria and other vector-borne diseases. Oral B1 has been used fairly-unsuccessfully as a mosquito repellent for years.  I found it beyond exciting to read that the patch BI delivery system kept mosquitoes at bay for up to 36 hours for the vast majority of the population being studied.  




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References

New Scientist requires a subscription for access to their articles.  I highly recommend subscribing since they cover space, technology, environment, health, physics and math, as well as science in society. 

The issues so many of us care deeply about and find most interesting.  Mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Azlheimer's disease. Jovanqvic Z, Med Pregl. 2012 Jul-August, 65(7-8): 302-7 [abstract]

The role of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease: implications for treatment. Watson GS, Craft S. CNS Drugs 2003, 17(1): 27-45. [abstract]

Tumor Necrosis Factor-Induced Cerebral Insulin Resistance in Alzhemier's Disease Links Tumors & Treatment Rationales.  Clark I, Atwood C, et al. Pharmacol Rev 2012 Sept 10 [abstract]

Increased DNA-glycation in type 2 diabetic patients: the effect of thaimine and pyridoxine therapy.  Polizzi FC, Andican G, et al. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes, 2012 Jun; 120(6): 329-34 [abstract]

Effect of insulin and oligofructose enrichment of the diet on rats suffering thiamine deficiency. Debski B, Kuryl T, et al. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr 2011 Jun, 95(3): 335-42 [abstract]

Malaria Prophylaxix Initiative (MPI) - a new methodology for prevention of malaria and other vector-borne diseases using thiamine patches. (PDF available in Biosyntrx research office or from Spencer Thornton, MD.)