Researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London recently made a shocking discovery. A common ingredient in the typical Western diet could turn out to be the culprit behind Alzheimer’s disease.
We already knew that diabetics have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but now we may know why. And even if you aren’t diabetic this new research could turn out to be the key to keeping your own brain, and memories intact.
According to the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, too much sugar can set off a slow-motion process in your head that eventually leads to Alzheimer’s disease.1 In a reaction called “glycation,” all that added sugar ends up damaging an important enzyme known as macrophage migration inhibitory factor, or MIF for short.
Abnormal proteins trigger Alzheimer’s
One of MIF’s jobs is to trigger your immune system to regularly sweep out the abnormal proteins—or plaques and tangles—which are linked to Alzheimer’s. But since the sugar-damaged enzyme is no longer able to do its job effectively researchers say this could be the trigger for the disease, which will take years to fully develop.
If you’re diabetic you are probably already working on reducing the sugar in your diet. And if that’s the case, this new research is just one more reason to work hard to keep your blood sugar under control. But even those of us who aren’t diabetic can be getting far too much sugar in our diets, driving up blood sugar up and putting ourselves at risk.
Slash the sugar starting today
More research is needed to figure out the exact connections between glucose and Alzheimer’s, but there’s no reason to wait around for it to be done. Cutting back on sugar is always a good idea anyway since eating too much of it raises our risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease.
Protect your precious memories starting today by slashing the added sugars. Begin, of course, by dropping sugary sodas, candy, cakes and cookies from your diet.
Those changes are obvious, but the typical Western is filled with many hidden sources of sugar too. Following are five everyday foods that pack a surprising sugar punch.
Store bought pasta sauces are swimming in sugar. A conservative, half-cup serving of sauce can deliver a staggering 6 to 12 grams of sugar. That’s as much sugar as you’d get in three Oreo cookies. Make your own sauce at home, it’s easy and will taste better too.
Fat-free salad dressing:
Most folks turn to fat-free dressings because they think they are doing something good for their health. But the truth is fat-free dressings are often full of junk oils and sugar. Some popular salad dressings contain up to four grams of sugar in a single tablespoon. Two tablespoons, a more realistic amount for a serving, contains more than a chocolate chip cookie. Try olive oil and vinegar instead.
If you’re fan of grilling go easy on the barbecue sauce. Some brands pack in up to 12 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons. For comparison, that’s nearly as much sugar as you’ll get in a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. Look for vinegar based barbecue sauces, which typically have less sugar, and be sure to read labels.
Grabbing some oatmeal for breakfast seems like a healthy choice. But if it’s a fruit flavored instant oatmeal you’re eating, you’ll typically be getting between 10 and 15 grams of sugar. Switch to steel cut oatmeal and flavor it with fresh fruit such as apple slices or berries instead.
If that post lunch slump has you reaching for an energy drink to get though the afternoon it’s time to change your habits. An eight ounce energy drink can contain an astounding 25 grams of sugar. In fact, a half a cup of vanilla ice cream has less. Switch to water or coffee instead.
Change is hard, so don’t try cutting out all sources of added sugar on day one. Make just one or two changes a week, and you’ll be much more likely to succeed at making them permanent.
1. Migration Inhibitory Factor is subjected to glucose modification and oxidation in Alzheimer’s Disease, Scientific Reports, 7, Article number: 42874 (2017)
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