Common sweeteners may play a causative role in Alzheimer’s disease. (Shutterstock)
The exact cause of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is still under investigation, but a growing body of research suggests that a common sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, may play a role in the effect.
High fructose syrup reduces brain metabolism
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS), commonly used in the processed food and drink industries, is made from corn starch and is often used as a substitute for sucrose (table sugar) because it is cheaper and more stable on the shelf.
A study published in June 2022 in the “Public Library of Science” found that mice fed HFCS from an early age had adverse changes in parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion and nervous system function. Long-term use of HFCS leads to a long-term decrease in metabolism in these areas of the brain, leading to brain degeneration and cognitive decline that are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
A review of studies published in March 2023 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also noted that fructose may reduce metabolism in areas of the brain involved in higher cognitive functions. The researchers speculate that increased levels of fructose in the brain may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
They also pointed out that the intake of glucose (a component of sucrose) and foods with a high glycemic index play a major role in increasing fructose levels in the brain. A 2017 Yale study found that fructose can be produced in the brain from glucose.
“We believe that Alzheimer’s disease is driven by diet,” said the review’s lead author, Dr. Richard Johnson, professor of renal disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, in a statement. Mice exposed long enough in the laboratory led to the formation of tau and amyloid proteins in the brain, proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Johnson thinks it could be a mechanism called a “survival switch,” which normally helps the body survive when food is scarce, but gets stuck in the “on” position when food is plentiful . This leads to overeating foods high in fat, sugar and salt, which promotes excess fructose.
He suggested that dietary and pharmacological trials should be carried out to examine whether reducing fructose or blocking fructose metabolism would be beneficial in the prevention, control or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Current research on the role of fructose metabolism in the brain is still limited.
Why fructose increases the risk of diabetes
Fructose consumption has increased significantly due to the widespread use of HFCS in beverages and processed foods. This sweetener has been shown to cause negative health effects, particularly diabetes.
“Studies suggest that type 2 diabetes may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, such as vascular dementia.” She has a PhD in Psychiatry from the University of Oxford, Alzheimer’s Society Science Program and Field Claire Sexton, senior director of the exhibition, told The Epoch Times.
This, he explained, may be due to increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which have also been shown to increase the risk of dementia. It could also be the result of hypoglycemia caused by chronically impaired glucose metabolism in the brain, which needs blood sugar for its energy.
In a double-blind experimental study at the University of California, Davis, researchers observed an increase in liver fat in two groups of subjects who drank three HFCS-sweetened drinks a day, or three sugar-sweetened drinks, for just two weeks. sensitivity.
This does not mean that eating fruit is bad for our health. Fructose is just an excess, and fruit contains very little fructose compared to many processed foods. Fruit is also rich in nutrients and fiber which helps to maintain a balanced diet and promote good health.
The problem is the free sugars we eat – fructose, glucose and sucrose, including those added to food and drinks during commercial processing, which are separated from the original ingredients .
Evidence suggests that the health risks caused by sugar are associated with excessive dietary intake of free sugars and not naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruit and milk.
Is Alzheimer’s disease the third type of diabetes?
Scientists report a strong link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, noting that Alzheimer’s is twice as common in people with diabetes. One popular theory is that Alzheimer’s may be a metabolic disorder, similar to type 2 diabetes, where the body fails to process insulin properly.
Studies have shown that insulin plays a critical role in brain function and that insulin resistance in the brain plays a role in cognitive decline.
A 2021 study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience found that hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in diabetes can directly lead to high blood sugar in the brain. Hyperglycemia in the brain can allow the blood-brain barrier to adapt by reducing the movement of glucose needed for brain function. High blood sugar in the brain offers a plausible explanation for the well-documented link between Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes, the researchers concluded.
There is increasing focus on the idea that Alzheimer’s disease could be a third type of diabetes. However, the idea has sparked debate about whether and how the disease actually arises.
Dr Sexton said he does not consider Alzheimer’s to be diabetes and does not believe their similarities explain the complexity of the two diseases.
“Although studies have shown a link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s risk, even without excess glucose in the brain, Alzheimer’s disease can still be severe,” Sexton said.
When asked if treating insulin resistance could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, he said it was currently being tested in clinical trials.
“In fact, last year at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, T3D Therapeutics reported promising interim results from their Phase 2 trial of T3D-959, designed to restore metabolic health in the brain by overcoming insulin resistance.”
For the English report, see the English “Epoch Times”:Sugar in Processed Foods and Drinks Linked to Dementia; Experts Explain Possible Reasons◇
Editor in charge: Li Fan