Last Updated: November 15, 2017
A Washington University study found that doubling the glucose levels in the blood of mice increased toxic beta amyloid in the brain by as much as 20%.
Can a sweet tooth increase your risk for Alzheimer’s? Learn more about the study and why some researchers are cautioning against taking a simplistic approach to its conclusion.
High Blood Sugar Could Lead to Greater Risk for Alzheimer’s
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that as glucose levels in the blood were elevated, so were levels of toxic beta amyloid in the brain.
The research team, led by Dr. Shannon Macauley, evaluated the effects of elevated blood sugar on the amyloid levels of mice. They found that as they doubled the levels of glucose in the bloodstream of the mice, beta amyloid proteins in the brain increased by 20%. Dr. McCauley said:
“Our results suggest diabetes, or other conditions that make it hard to control blood sugar levels can have harmful effects on brain function and exacerbate neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.”
He continues: “The link we have discovered could lead us to future treatment targets that reduce these effects.”
This latest study follows previous research connecting Alzheimer’s to diabetes. One study found that 70% of people with type 2 diabetes will go on to develop Alzheimer’s at some point. Others believe that Alzheimer’s may even be a third type of diabetes, or a very advanced stage of type 2 diabetes.
Simplicity of Study Raises Doubts
While researchers are hopeful that their findings will lead to future treatment methods, other researchers caution against the connection between a sweet tooth and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s.
An U.S. National Library of Medicine points out that the study only looked at the short term effects of elevated glucose levels, and not if those levels affected longer term beta amyloid levels.
The article also notes that it has not been conclusively proven that diabetes is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s while also admitting the study does support the existing theory that blood sugar levels can affect beta amyloid levels.
Another interesting point brought up by scientists is that brain cells require glucose to function properly, therefore, we can not entirely avoid glucose in the brain.
Overall, all researchers agree that healthy eating and regular exercise are the best way to prevent disease and stay healthy.
What do you think about the latest study connecting a sweet tooth to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s? We’d like to hear your thoughts with us in the comments below.