We've known for a long time that eating huge amounts of sugar can lead to diabetes and obesity, but now scientists have also linked high blood sugar levels to that dreaded, debilitating disease: Alzheimer's.
A new study from the University of Bath found that excess glucose acts as a molecular "tipping point" for Alzheimer's disease. Using brain samples from people with and without Alzheimer's, the team discovered that in the early stages of Alzheimer's, a crucial enzyme known as MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) is damaged by glucose and its breakdown products in a process called glycation.
Here's where the tipping point occurs: MIF is normally involved in the immune response of brain cells to the build-up of abnormal proteins as Alzheimer's develops. As glycation decreases this MIF activity, the disease is allowed to keep progressing. And as Alzheimer's progresses, glycation increases too.
"Knowing this will be vital to developing a chronology of how Alzheimer's progresses," said Dr. Rob Williams said in a university news release. "We hope it will help us identify those at risk of Alzheimer's and lead to new treatments or ways to prevent the disease."
There are 50 million people suffering from Alzheimer's disease around the world, and that number's projected to rise to more than 125 million by 2050, according to Science Daily.
"Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer's disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets," said Dr. Omar Kassaar.
Wondering what else you can do to prevent Alzheimer's? Besides cutting extra sugar from your diet, check out more lifestyle tips to keep your brain strong and healthy.
(h/t Science Daily)
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