Obesity and diabetes are not the only natural consequence of consuming certain foods in excess.
Researchers have known for some time that people who eat large amounts of one food, produced from a variety of sources, are also more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than their peers.
Unfortunately, it’s a food that is everywhere – as an additive or by itself. It is known by many names, as attempts to disguise its presence in ingredient lists are crafty.
A study in the latest edition of Scientific Reports, written by researchers at the University of Bath and King’s College London, now proposes a mechanism through which sugar can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Sugar molecules inside your body have this nasty habit of binding to protein and fat molecules. When this binding is controlled by enzymes, it is normal and harmless.
But when the binding happens without the involvement of enzymes, scientists call it glycation and it can be harmful.
During the process of glycation, protein and fat cells can be damaged, and harmful advanced glycation end products can be released that can damage other cells even further.
None of this is new knowledge, but researchers never quite understood how glycation led to Alzheimer’s.
The London and Bath scientists studied brain samples of people with and without Alzheimer’s discovering that, right at the beginning of the disease, glycation damaged an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor).
This enzyme is part of your immune system. When proteins start building up in your brain, as happens at the beginning of Alzheimer’s, MIF is supposed to stimulate other brain cells, called glia, to deal with this abnormal protein buildup.
But because glycation suppresses MIF, this process cannot get going, allowing Alzheimer’s to proceed undisturbed.
In other words, your immune system does have a mechanism to combat the changes that lead to this disease, but excessive sugar intake kills this mechanism.
We often wonder why our immune systems are so feeble and cannot protect us against cancer, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and other widespread 21st-century ailments.
But this study shows that our immune systems are a lot better than we think, but they need a bit of help from us in the form of a reasonably healthy diet.
Be on the lookout for added sugar in your foods – sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and other names. Checking the carbohydrate content is the best way to see if you are eating excessive amounts of sugar.
There is, however, one thing more important to your brain than avoiding sugars and obesity – and that’s to load your brain with the one ingredient it needs the most. Good news is, it’s free and available everywhere…