Can Eating Sugar and Starch Give You Alzheimer's Disease?

Amid all the dire warnings from doctors and health officials about the triple-crisis of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, the scary statistics about the explosion of Alzheimer's disease in the US seem to be getting lost.

But it now appears that all four of these serious conditions may have a common cause: our current consumption of sugar, sodas, sweets, and refined carbohydrate foods.

Is a sweet tooth worth losing your mind over?

New studies are finding stronger-than-ever links between Alzheimer's and diabetes. (So strong, in fact, that Alzheimer's is now being called "Type 3 Diabetes.")

Research studies conducted over the last 7 years and recently reported on in The New Scientist and by New York Times' food writer Mark Bittman are now indicating that Alzheimer's could be another form of diet-linked diabetes.

Alzheimer's is the most feared medical condition among seniors, even more so than cancer. But this news about its connection to insulin and diabetes may actually be hopeful because it indicates that we actually may have more control over avoiding it than doctors previously believed.

How insulin works for-and against-you

You may be wondering how your brain and a can of sugary-sweet Coke are connected? To explain, here's a brief lesson in "insulin 101"…

Diabetes is classified into categories: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is the diabetes you are born with; while Type 2 largely develops as a result of poor lifestyle choices and habits, including the overconsumption of sweets, sodas, and refined carbohydrates (such as bread, doughnuts, fries, chips, and processed foods).

When your metabolism is working normally, insulin is released to assist your cells in absorbing and processing blood sugar (glucose). But when there is too much blood sugar in your system for too long, your cells become resistant to insulin (insulin resistance or pre-diabetes), causing all sorts of problems. Approximately one-third of Americans have Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Why your brain needs insulin

Your brain also needs insulin to keep your blood vessels healthy and to assist neurons in absorbing glucose. In fact, low insulin levels in the brain are links to reduced brain function.

With Type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas responsible for producing insulin come under attack from the immune system, which destroys them. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is the result of our unhealthy modern diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Now, experts say, there is a third type of diabetes in which brain cells become insulin-resistant, which results in memory loss, disorientation, and the loss of personality - all classic hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.

A study researchers at Brown University conducted on rats in a maze found that blocking insulin to the brain caused the rodents to become so disoriented that they were unable to find their way out of the maze. Surgical examination of their brains identified the same patterns of deterioration found in Alzheimer's patients.

What do diabetes and Alzheimer's have in common?

Ongoing research and recent studies indicate that diabetes and Alzheimer's have origins in the same problem: the overconsumption of sugar, sweets, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), refined carbohydrates, starches and processed foods.

Another frightening statistic to consider: According to Bittman, Type 2 diabetes has nearly tripled in the US over the past 40 years. If the rate of Alzheimer's grows similarly, we're looking at a huge percentage of our population fighting on two fronts, the brain and the body.

In fact, the US is expected to experience a 44 percent increase in individuals with Alzheimer's disease by 2025, with the Western and Southeastern states to be hit the hardest.

5 safeguards to take before it's too late

Neither of these predictions is inevitable, however. There are definite steps you can take to protect you brain and body from the ravages of both of these devastating conditions. Start your path to mental longevity by taking these five steps now…

1. Control your insulin levels. If you regularly consume sweets, carbohydrate foods, and beverages that spike your blood sugar levels, your body's insulin switch will be "on" most of the time. This can lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, as well as dementia and Alzheimer's. The key to safeguarding yourself from these conditions is to reduce or eliminate your consumption of these insulin-triggering foods and beverages.

2. Consume foods that keep your blood sugar levels low. Build your diet around those foods and beverages that don't trigger insulin. These include fruits and vegetables, lean meats and high quality protein, whole grains, dairy products, healthful fats, beans and legumes, and whole grains. Here's a list of some of my favorite diabetes healing superfoods.

3. Become more physically active. Getting more daily exercise burns off blood sugar, and lowers your insulin levels. Remember, your mental health is at stake here, so get to the gym or just walk outdoors at least 30 minutes per day.

4. Focus on nature's foods. If it comes in a bag or box, avoid it. Choose foods that closely resemble their natural form, specifying organically-grown, hormone-free, wild, free-range, and grass-fed, whenever possible.

5. Choose healthy eating over trendy diets. Healthy eating isn't rocket science. Instead, it involves basic common sense. Author Michael Pollan condensed it into three simple guidelines: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Half (or more) of your plate should be filled with vegetables, while the other half should contain clean animal protein, beans and legumes (or whole grains).

It's really just this simple

In case you're not convinced that these simple steps can make a difference, consider this true story of Doug N. Diagnosed with Type 2 at age 18, he was never guided toward proper nutrition, and so he continued down a road with the typical American (unhealthy) diet.

At 59, he weighed 306 pounds and was immobilized by painful diabetic neuropathy. By then he had endured seven eye surgeries, two heart attacks, open-heart surgery, and was taking 32 different pharmaceutical medications. He had abandoned all hope and was, in his own words, "ready to die."

After his brother sent him a copy of The 30-Day Diabetes Cure, it only took six months to shed 50 pounds and to return his blood sugar to normal. As of July 2012, Doug has lost 130 pounds and is off insulin completely. His blood sugar regularly tests in the normal, non-diabetic range. Check out his inspiring story here.

Get started now. Please.

It may sound scary to think of Alzheimer's as a new type of diabetes, but there's good news in this. It means that means if you can control and even reverse your diabetes, you've got a much better chance of avoiding Alzheimer's and living a long, healthy, happy life.

If you haven't already started down the road to better health and reversing your diabetes, it's not too late. Get started today!