A high carbohydrate diet could be a major driver of cognitive decline.
Lunch Hour Lesson #43
Recently one of my close family members was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and it got me thinking about the different research on the subject that I have been seeing emerge recently.
One of the major theories of why Alzheimer’s Disease can emerge in some people has to do with something that I’ve talked about a lot in other Lunch Hour Lessons, and that is blood sugar regulation. Some researchers are now associating Alzheimer’s Disease with Type 3 Diabetes. Why would that be?
It is important to first understand how heavily the brain relies upon glucose for fuel. In humans, the brain accounts for about 2% of the body weight, but it consumes about 20% of glucose-derived energy, making it the main consumer of glucose out of all our organs.
Glucose is the simple sugar that all other sugars (and foods) break down into. Remember that all food intake eventually turns into glucose – fats, proteins, and carbohydrates can all be converted into glucose when needed for fuel.
Because of that, we don’t really need to eat a lot of carbyhydrate sourced glucose in its pure form. What happens in our American population is that we eat an imbalance of carbohydrate foods at the expense of foods rich in healthy fats or protein.
We’ve been conditioned away from adding fat to our food, in the form of butter, cream, and lard, and eating high protein meats, out of a misguided belief that these will make us fat and give us heart disease.
So instead, we often provide our bodies with fuel from mostly high-carbohydrate sources, some of which are considered “healthy” like low-fat grains and fruit, and others which aren’t, like sugary sodas and pastries.
Eating a daily fat-free oatmeal breakfast with orange juice, and then making a habit out indulging in sugary treats, means that a large amount of glucose quickly hits the bloodstream in a repeated fashion.
Over time, the cells get “full of sugar” and stop wanting to receive more glucose. So instead, the glucose that is supposed to go into the cells keeps circulating in the bloodstream, making one’s blood sugar higher and higher.
Notice the changes taking place within your body as it releases toxins.
Because the hormone insulin is the messenger that tells the cells to “let the glucose in”, the condition where cells are too full of glucose to accept any more is called insulin resistance. And if the situation continues unchanged, insulin resistance eventually results in diabetes.
We started talking about Alzheimer’s Disease. What can happen with Alzheimer’s is that the cells of the brain itself become resistant to insulin’s message, and so the brain cells themselves are not able to accept more glucose.
Because glucose can’t get into the brain cells, the cells literally start starving and reducing in power and function. This is the beginning of cognitive decline.
Some researchers and clinicians have found that luckily there is an alternate fuel source that may help nourish brain cells even when they have lost their ability to intake glucose for fuel. This alternate fuel is composed of ketones. Ketones are an energy source from fats that the brain can use instead.
The body only makes ketones when carbohydrate intake is very low. So, it involves switching from a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet to one that is high in fats, like coconut oil especially, and low in carbohydrates.
If someone you know is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, I would recommend reading some of the research regarding Type 3 diabetes and what can be done about it. In my Weekend Tip on Saturday I’ll also share a couple good books on this subject.
I recommend two good books on the subject of diet and Alzheimer’s Disease: Stop Alzheimer’s Now! by Dr. Bruce Fife, and The Alzheimer’s Antidote by Amy Berger.
Lunch Hour Lessons with Allison
Watch this week’s Facebook LIVE – Lunch Hour Lesson #43: Alzheimer’s Disease: Type 3 Diabetes? Each week I bring you a topic related to nutrition and health that I think is interesting, and give you a lesson to take with you into your daily life. Watch Live on Facebook, Wednesdays, 12:30pm PST!
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