A diet high in sugar could lead to Alzheimer’s, a new study has warned.
Unprecedented research has revealed the ‘tipping point’ at which blood sugar levels become so dangerous they allow the neurological disease to take hold.
Scientists have now unraveled the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s disease.
They found that, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, glycation damages an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor). MIF, which plays a role in immune response and insulin regulation, is involved in the response of brain cells called glia to the build up of abnormal proteins in the brain during the disease.
The researchers believe that inhibition and reduction of MIF activity caused by glycation could be the “tipping point” in disease progression. It appears that, as the disease progresses, the glycation of these enzymes increases.
Once levels pass the threshold, they restrict the performance of a vital protein, which normally fights the brain inflammation associated with dementia.
The study by the University of Bath and King’s College London builds on previous research showing diabetes appears to increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. But this is the first concrete evidence to explain why abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycemia, have an impact on cognitive function.
Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:
We know that diabetes can double a person’s risk of developing dementia but we still don’t really understand how the two conditions are linked – this study offers a vital clue.
Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer’s disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets.