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High sugar-based diet, obesity strongly linked to causing Alzheimer's and dementia

Dietary sugar

(NaturalNews) New surveys show that fear of getting dementia in our old age has replaced the fear of getting cancer, the UK's Daily Mail Online reports, because people believe there have been some advances in cancer care but not in the treatment for Alzheimer's and other dementia-related diseases.

The paper noted that the best medications currently available for dementia do nothing other than perhaps slow the progression of the disease or otherwise temporarily alleviate some of its symptoms.

That said, researchers now have some better news to report. In March, Dr. Dennis Gillings, head of the World Dementia Council, said he was "optimistic" that new treatments to halt and even reverse the disease could be developed within five years.

The Daily Mail Online reported further:

Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, including loss of memory, confusion and difficulties with thinking, or language, caused by some sort of damage to the brain. Typically it starts after the age of 65 and the risk increases with age, with one in six 80-year-olds affected.

In all, scientists have identified more than 100 forms of dementia. The most common, which affects millions worldwide, is Alzheimer's disease, in which it is believed that abnormal proteins – amyloid and tau – build up in the brain, while connections between brain cells deteriorate.

High-sugar diets really raise your risk of disease

Others are afflicted with vascular dementia, a condition in which brain cells die off after restrictions in the brain's blood supply occur as a result of a stroke or due to diseased blood vessels.

Medical experts say it is common to experience a combination of Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, and that the causes of each will vary. Genetics, researchers have discovered, plays a role particularly in the development of Alzheimer's, but new data also suggest that lifestyle plays an important role as well.

For instance, obesity is strongly tied to dementia. One theory is that having excessive fat tissue triggers the release of harmful hormones that tend to be very damaging to brain cells. In addition, being obese will more likely be accompanied by high blood pressure, higher cholesterol and clogged arteries, which contribute to vascular dementia and risk of stroke.

As such, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that diets that are high in sugar can also increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's and vascular dementia, because high sugar can impede the normal actions of insulin, a hormone that helps manage the body's blood sugar levels. Proper blood sugar levels also appears to be important in brain signaling, scientists also believe.

Chronically high blood sugar causes diabetes and is also believed to increase your risk of blood vessel damage, including the small vessels in the brain.

"Dementia is not inevitable"

That said, just as a poor diet and lifestyle can lead to dementia, eating healthy and developing healthy lifestyle habits like exercise can also protect you against developing a dementia-related disease.

"Dementia is not inevitable," Dr. Naji Tabet, a leading dementia specialist and senior lecturer at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, told the Daily Mail Online.

"We think that in a quarter of patients destined to develop the most common causes of dementia - including many of those with a family susceptibility - it can be stopped or significantly delayed. It's never too early or too late to start thinking about what you could do to protect yourself," Tabet added.

Some of the things that Tabet says could help us protect our brains is to reduce our BMI – body mass index; change dietary habits mostly by reducing excess sugar intake; keep your brain active; treat high blood pressure; and try to reduce stress.

"As we age, our brain shrinks and the connections weaken, but the bigger your cognitive reserve is, the longer you should go without experiencing problems - it's like the bigger the fuel tank is on your car, the further it will go," Tabet said.





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