October 30, 2012

Is Alzheimer's 'Brain diabetes'?

Could eating too much junk food give you Alzheimer's?

Scientists increasingly believe Alzheimer’s is linked to type 2 diabetes — so closely linked, in fact, it’s even being called ‘brain diabetes’ or type 3 diabetes.  This surprising new theory holds out hope that treatments already available for diabetes may also be able to help dementia sufferers, slowing down or stopping the progression of the disease.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, there’s no mystery about what’s behind the soaring rates — eating too much, especially junk food that’s packed with sugar, refined carbohydrates and fat.

Raised insulin levels also affect the brain.Recent research has found this hormone plays a much more important role in the brain than once thought — protecting cells and helping to lay down memories.  The key to diabetes, and very possibly to Alzheimer’s, is insulin resistance.
For instance, insulin resistance is being linked with formation of the plaques — deposits of damaged protein —  that are a classic sign of Alzheimer’s.
Scientists are still finding out what happens when insulin levels in the brain rise.

‘But we know it is much more important than we thought,’ says Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, a biochemist at the University of Sydney and world authority on insulin (she helped develop the glycaemic index).  High levels of insulin could also be having a damaging effect on neurons, she says. ‘This is because insulin comes partnered with another hormone, amylin, which makes the same sort of plaques as those found in the brains of dementia patients, except in the pancreas.

'It could be contributing to plaque formation in the brain.’  High sugar levels don’t just push up insulin — they can also damage the brain directly.
Posted by Jill Fallon at October 30, 2012 11:13 AM | Permalink