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Eating Junk Food Could Cause Dementia

Eating Junk Food Could Cause Dementia

Stuffing your face on junk food will not only make you fat – it could also give you dementia.

A bad diet triggers Alzheimer’s by poisoning the brain according to scientists who believe that evidence is growing which shows that the disease could be another form of diabetes.

Studies have been carried out on animals – particularly rats – which have strongly implicating the hormone insulin in the process showing similarities in Alzheimer’s and Diabetes.

Confirming the link could speed the search for desperately needed new treatments for Alzheimer’s, which, along with other forms of dementia, affects more than 800,000 Britons.

Bad diets are already linked to dementia, through high blood pressure and cholesterol interrupting blood supply to the brain.

But the latest theory points to high levels of fatty and sugary food damaging the brain by interrupting its supply of insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition, unhealthy foods lead to cells in the body becoming resistant to the insulin they need to convert sugar into energy.

The findings are revealed in New Scientist magazine which says something similar may be happening in Alzheimer’s, with a bad diet preventing brain cells from responding properly to insulin.

Insulin is needed to regulate brain chemicals key to memory and learning, to make and strengthen connections between brain cells and to maintain the blood vessels that supply the brain with blood and oxygen.

In tests, rats given a chemical that stopped their brains from being able to use insulin developed Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Suzanne de la Monte, of Brown University in the U.S., said: ‘They were demented. They couldn’t learn or remember.’

And triggering diabetes created Alzheimer’s-like changes in the brains of rabbits, including the development of the sticky beta amyloid plaques that clog up the brains of human patients.

Bad diets are already linked to dementia, through high blood pressure and cholesterol interrupting blood supply to the brain

Evidence that resistance to insulin is key also comes from a University of Pennsylvania study of brain tissue taken from cadavers.

Brain tissue from people who had not had Alzheimer’s seemed to spring back to life when it was bathed in insulin.

But brain cells from Alzheimer’s patients barely reacted at all.

And when researchers fed healthy men and women fatty, sugary foods for a month levels of insulin and beta amyloid rose.

New Scientist says: ‘If they are right – and a growing body of evidence suggests they might be – the implications are deeply troubling. Since calorific foods are known to impair our body’s response to insulin, we may be unwittingly poisoning our brains every time we chow down on burgers and fries.’

It adds that sufferers of type 2 diabetes – the form that usually occurs in overweight, middle-aged adults – may be particularly vulnerable to diabetes of the brain.

With rates of diabetes soaring, dementia could be on course to reach ‘epidemic’ proportions.

But there is some hope. Early trials of an insulin nasal spray have had promising results and diabetes drugs could make the brain more sensitive to insulin or help break up the poisonous plaques.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s director of research, Professor Clive Ballard, said: ‘One in three people over 65 will develop dementia. Research like this points us in new directions for treatment development.’

And separate research  from Australia has discovered a similar pattern.

This survey says that People whose blood sugar is on the high end of ‘the normal range’ may be at greater risk of brain shrinkage.

The Australian-based research suggests a higher blood sugar level could lead to the kind of mental health issues that occur with aging and diseases such as dementia.

Researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra say this could lead to a revolution in the understanding of how blood sugar levels affect the brain, and how diabetes is defined.

Latest research at the Australian National University suggests too high a level could lead to brain shrinkage

The new research, published  in the latest edition of the medical journal Neurology, involved 249 people age 60 to 64, who had blood sugar in the normal range as defined by the World Health Organization.

The participants had brain scans at the start of the study and again an average of four years later.

Those with higher fasting blood sugar levels within the normal range – below 6.1 mmol/l – were more likely to have a loss of brain volume in the areas of the hippocampus and the amygdala, areas that are involved in memory and cognitive skills, than those with lower blood sugar levels.
The study suggests, particularly for older people, that blood sugar levels should be reduced if reaching the high end of the scale

After controlling for age, high blood pressure, smoking, alcohol use and other factors, the researchers found that blood sugar on the high end of normal accounted for six to 10 percent of the brain shrinkage.

Study author Nicolas Cherbuin said: ‘Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high end of normal experience these same effects.’

A fasting blood sugar level of 10.0 mmol/l (180 mg/dL) or higher is defined as diabetes and a level of 6.1 mmol/l (110 mg/dL) is considered impaired, or prediabetes.

‘These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health,’ Mr Cherbuin said.

‘More research is needed, but these findings may lead us to re-evaluate the concept of normal blood sugar levels and the definition of diabetes.’

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