Does Sugar Cause Brain Decay?

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Hello Singapore. I just read an interesting article in the Atlantic and I want to share with you the important information. The Atlantic is an influential magazine published in the U.S. that was founded in 1857. It focuses on public policy, politics, international affairs, science, and technology.

I highly recommend reading the full article. It is well worth your time.

Now, I’m sure many of you are too busy to read the entire article, so I want give you a brief summary with some quick added commentary.

The subtitle of the article provides a good one-sentence encapsulation:

“A high-carb diet, and the attendant high blood sugar, are associated with cognitive decline.”

What is Cognitive Decline?

Think of cognitive decline as brain degeneration, and the common term for this is Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a general term for brain degeneration that starts slow and worsens over time, often leading to dementia. It is termed a neurodegenerative disease and typically starts later in life. But this condition is not a normal, natural part of aging.

Symptoms of Brain Degeneration (Alzheimer’s Disease):

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Problems with language
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of motivation
  • Problems with self-care
  • General behavioural issues

Here’s a good introduction on the Alzheimer’s disease.

Key Findings:

Here are some key findings from the article:

  • There is increasing evidence that Alzheimer’s is a potential side effect of a sugary, pro-inflammatory diet. The author refers to this as a “Western-style diet”
  • longitudinal study, published in the journal Diabetologia, followed 5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them clinically diabetic.
  • The higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.
  • People who have type-2 diabetes are about twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s than non-diabetic people.
  • People who have diabetes and are treated with insulin are also more likely to get Alzheimer’s, which suggests that elevated insulin plays a role in Alzheimer’s.
  • Many studies have found that elevated insulin, or “hyperinsulinemia,” significantly increases your risk of Alzheimer’s.
  • Researchers believe that this confusing finding can be explained by the fact that when a person has diabetes and they do not have an ability to produce insulin, amyloid proteins can develop in the brain, leading to brain degeneration.
  • In a 2012 study, researchers divided nearly 1,000 people down into four groups based on how much of their diet came from carbohydrates. The group that ate the most carbohydrates had an 80 percent higher chance of developing cognitive impairment.
  • The decisions we make while we’re relatively young can affect our future cognitive health.

Here’s a startling summary quote from the article:

“Alzheimer’s is like a slow-burning fire that you don’t see when it starts,” a researcher said. It takes time for clumps to form and for cognition to begin to deteriorate. “By the time you see the signs, it’s way too late to put out the fire.”

So what is the bottom line? Consuming a large amount of carbohydrates on a regular basis, over time, can lead to a wide variety of health problems—including cognitive decline or brain degeneration.

Inflammation Syndrome  

What is the connection among all of these findings? Inflammation.

Living a life that promotes an internal inflammatory state is what causes a significant number of health challenges and can dramatically affect the health and function of your brain.

Inflammation is the problem.

So what is inflammation? There are two types of inflammation. One type is known as acute inflammation. Think of what happens when you sprain an ankle: there is swelling, heat, redness, and pain.

This is part of your body’s innate healing mechanism that is absolutely necessary and beneficial when you have an injury, infection, or some kind of harmful stimulus.

Inflammation is coordinated through a complex interplay between your nervous system and immune system. It is a cascade of chemical reactions that promote tissue healing and recovery. Again, inflammation is a normal and healthy physiological process, essential for survival.

A major problem arises when our unhealthy lifestyles—mainly our poor eating habits—continually trigger the alarm bells of the inflammatory process. This is the second type of inflammation known as chronic or low-grade inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is far more dangerous because it occurs on a widespread, insidious cellular level. Chronic inflammation is known as a silent killer because it leads to a variety of cell and tissue damage.

This article seems to suggest a strong link between chronic inflammation and cognitive degeneration, known as Alzheimer’s disease.

High blood sugar and high levels of insulin in the blood stream are major causes of inflammation and are increasingly being linked to brain health.

So what can be done?

Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Quick Summary

Eat More Raw Fruits and Vegetables

  • Focus on dark, colorful, leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, chard, rocket, and lettuce.
  • Other vegetable like carrots, beet root, cucumbers, sprouts, and bell peppers are great as well.
  • Most fruits are very good too.
  • The more colorful the better.

Eliminate Sugar

  • Reduce or eliminate refined sugars like cakes, pastries, cookies, soda, sweetened drinks, table sugar, candies, bread, pasta, rice, and noodles.

Eliminate Processed Foods

  • Unfortunately, many store-bought snack foods are high in additives, chemicals, and other preservatives and can lead to an inflammatory state in your body.
  • Never consume trans-fats like margarine or shortening. Never. Ever.
  • Many store-bought sauces, condiments, flavorings, and gravies promote inflammation as well.

Healthy Fats

  • Fats are your friends.
  • Provided your sugar intake is low, eat fat in abundance.
  • Good sources of fats are eggs, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, cashews, avocados, uncooked olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and even lard.

High-Quality Meats

  • Free range chicken, poultry, fish, and grass-fed beef are fine.
  • Processed meats such as luncheon meat and store-bought sausages are less desirable.

Supplement with Fish Oil

  • Omega-three fatty acids are critical as well. In general, you want to avoid supplementing with Omega-6 and supplement with Omega-3 (EPA and DHA).

I personally like Nordic Naturals, and there are some good products from our friends in Korea.

Related Article: Supplement to Boost Your Immune System.

Align Your Spine, Maximize Your Life!

The health of your spine is the foundation of your overall health because your spine directly affects the performance of your nervous system. Chiropractors are specialists in improving your spine alignment and restoring your nervous system to optimal function.

There is direct link between the health of your nervous system and your inflammatory state.

Get your spine checked today. Nerve supply is life supply!

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