Want Alzheimer’s? Keep Consuming Sugar

A new study shows a strong link between sugar consumption and Alzheimer’s, but cronyism will likely keep many Americans from hearing about it. Action Alert!
A study by British researchers has identified a link between a diet high in sugar and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. High blood sugar levels appear to damage a key enzyme in the inflammatory response in the disease’s early stages.
The researchers found that glycation—the reaction that occurs when glucose is broken down into its components, which can damage proteins in cells—alters the function of an enzyme that mediates the immune response.
In the US, one in ten people aged 65 and older have Alzheimer’s, totaling about five million people. By 2050 that number is expected to climb as high as 16 million.
Unsurprisingly, government nutrition policy isn’t helping.
Remember that the FDA recently rolled out its new Nutrition Facts Label, which now has a 10% daily reference value, or DRV, for added sugars (that is, sugars not originally in the food but added during processing). Daily reference values, also known as daily recommended values, normally refer to what we should be eating. As we noted at the time, food companies and the general public will regard this as a recommendation to consume added sugar—the last thing many of us need.
Reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s isn’t the only reason to avoid sugar. There are many, many other serious health conditions that have been linked with sugar.
Any integrative doctor or nutrition professional worth his or her “salt” will advise patients (in most cases) to strictly limit their sugar intake and to eliminate added sugar completely—in particular, artificial sweeteners and highly processed forms like high fructose corn syrup.
Dr. David Williams doesn’t mince words: “I can’t put it more plainly: sugar kills.” (Alternatives Newsletter, June 2010).
The status quo is unacceptable. The FDA should not be tacitly encouraging Americans to eat sugar when the negative health effects of doing so are well documented.
Action Alert! Write to the FDA and tell them to reverse their DRV for added sugar. Please send your message immediately.


Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health:

Chemicals Making us Sterile, Dumber
EPA: Carcinogens Are OK with Us
New Budget Puts the FDA Even Further into the Pocket of Big Pharma


  1. Interesting that this article does not link directly to the study it cites…
    “Interesting” might not be the right word. That study does not implicate sugar as a cause, or even as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

    1. “Sugar” is just a catch all term nowadays for anything that raises blood glucose and promotes insulin resistance. Alzheimer’s is Diabetes Type III.

    2. here is the title of the ref, so google can find a link:
      “Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor is subjected to
      glucose modification and oxidation in Alzheimer’s Disease.”
      the abstract says:
      Glucose and glucose metabolites are able to adversely
      modify proteins through a non-enzymatic reaction called glycation,
      which is associated with the pathology of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)
      and is a characteristic of the hyperglycaemia induced by diabetes.
      However, the precise protein glycation profile that characterises AD
      is poorly defined
      and the molecular link between hyperglycaemia and AD is unknown.
      In this study, we define an early glycation profile of human brain
      using fluorescent phenylboronate gel electrophoresis
      and identify early glycation and oxidation of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) in AD brain.
      This modification inhibits MIF enzyme activity and ability to stimulate glial cells.
      MIF is involved in immune response and insulin regulation,
      hyperglycaemia, oxidative stress and glycation are all implicated in AD.
      Our study indicates that glucose modified and oxidised MIF
      could be a molecular link between hyperglycaemia
      and the dysregulation of the innate immune system in AD.

      1. Finding the article was not a problem. The reason I had to look for it was.
        The causal relationship between consumption of sugar and succumbing to Alzheimer’s Disease that is implied in the title “Want Alzheimer’s? Keep Consuming Sugar” doesn’t exist.
        That title is as fundamentally dishonest as the behavior that American National Health accuses the medical establishment, agribusiness and mainstream media of perpetrating.

        1. did you read the abstract? when you see “glycation”
          that means a reaction with glucose (sugar)!

          1. The question is, did you understand the abstract. Clearly, you didn’t
            This us high school Stuff. Virtually every carbohydrate is reduced to glucose, (glycemic index standard, at 100) the variance begins with glycemic index as considered in the particular glycemic load. A teaspoon of table sugar (sucrose, (glycemic index 65) by the way. Glucose is rarely an ingredient) high on the glycemic index, spread on cold rolled oats? Low glycemic load.
            From the abstract: “…the precise protein glycation profile that characterizes AD is poorly defined and the molecular link between hyperglaecemia and AD is unknown”
            No causal relationship between sugar consumption and Alzheimer’s Disease exists. Any implication to the contrary is, at best, uninformed.

          2. do you really understand “high school Stuff”?
            sucrose is digested into glucose and fructose;
            fructose causes insulin resistance,
            and raises blood levels of glucose,
            leading to more glycation associated with alz.

          3. “…sucrose is digested into glucose…”
            Uhhhh, yeah. so does virtually every other carbohydrate you eat. The RATE of that conversion is what matters.
            “…fructose causes insulin resistance…”
            So, you really don’t actually know what you are talking about. Faddist pop nutrition aside, fructose has the lowest glycemic index of all the natural sugars. It spikes blood glucose much more slowly than other sweets, and slower than some complex carbs. Current thinking is that rapid increases in blood sugar causing insulin spiking is behind insulin resistance, not some particular substance.
            “…and raises blood levels of glucose…”
            Everything you eat raises blood glucose. Again, it is the rate of that rise that matters. glycemic index vs glycemic load.
            “…leading to more glycation associated with alz.”
            So, we’ve moved away from a causal relationship between sugar consumption and Alzheimer’s Disease to an association between glycation and AD. That’s good.
            While it should go without needing to be said, glycation is heavily implicated in many, many defects associated with aging, and is present to some extent in every single human being.
            Still, what about…
            The large cohort of individuals without diabetes who develop Alzheimer’s?
            The large cohort of individuals with diabetes who do not develop diabetes?
            The substantial sub-group of people with diabetes and symptoms of deficits caused by AGE (advanced glycation endproducts) like peripheral neuropathy, prematurely aged skin, atherosclerosis, yet never develop Alzheimer’s?
            The study cited by the click-bait, dishonestly titled article doesn’t address these questions because they are outside of its scope.
            The study itself concludes with “our study indicates that glucose modified and oxidized MIF COULD BE a molecular link between hyperglaecemia and the deregulation of the innate immune system in AD.” (MIF stands for “macrophage migration Inhibitory Factor, an enzyme.)
            Not even a whiff of ‘sugar causes Alzheimer’s’.

          4. fructose is indeed a major cause of insulin resistance:
            see Am J Clin Nutr November 2002,
            “Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome”:
            “Fructose consumption induces insulin resistance,
            impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia,
            hypertriacylglycerolemia, and hypertension in animal models.”
            . it is not just the rate of rise of glucose of a food that matters;
            what also matters is insulin sensitivity:
            the ability to use the glucose that comes in.
            . if there is not a direct relation between sugar and alz
            the indirect one may look like this:
            sugar causes inflammation and inflammation causes alz;
            see Dr.Sears “the omega-rx zone” and “the anti-inflammation zone”.

          5. That quote, from a 2002 study? You left out the very next line, pretty important one too: “the data in humans are less clear…” Also that part about “…much more research is needed to fully understand the metabolic effect of dietary fructose in humans.”
            No wonder that dishonest headline didn’t offend you.
            “…it is not just the rate of rise of glucose that matters; what also matters is insulin sensitivity…”
            Oh my! A spike in blood glucose provokes a spike in insulin. When this happens frequently, circulating insulin averages become higher, cells become desensitized to insulin. Glucose tolerance becomes impaired, insulin sensitivity decreases.
            Also a very well-known attribute of fructose is pointed out in the very study you cited: “Fructose, unlike glucose does not stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic (beta) cells…”
            Your comments reveal you to be unprepared for the discussion you think you’re having.
            Quoting “President Reagan’s Secret Cancer Cure” Dr Al Sears doesn’t help. Hilarious.

          6. Dr Al Sears? you think I was unprepared;
            you couldn’t defend half my rebuttals;
            you put your health in the hands of
            the corrupt science of the sugar industry,
            and I’ll put my health in the hands of Dr. Barry Sears.

          7. Your “rebuttals” weren’t. You are unprepared, your comments reveal a working knowledge of popular and fad literature, but very little in the way of physiology, biology and chemistry.
            You had to lie by omission when you quoted that 2002 study from The American Journal of Nutrition. An honestly curious person would not have excluded those parts that doomed your attempt at “rebuttal”.
            Again, from your study: “…The data in humans are less clear…”
            If that isn’t bad enough, you left out the conclusion of that study: “…much more research is needed to fully understand the metabolic effect of dietary fructose in humans.”
            Such omissions are considered unethical behavior in academic circles, but then you aren’t in academic circles, are you?
            I “put my health in the hands of the corrupt science of the sugar industry”? Priceless, but as I’ve come to expect from you, wrong.
            I read academic research from places like PubMed, NIH, MedScape, the Cochrane Collaboration, etc. But then, I have the wherewithal to profit from reading actual research.
            Have a real nice life.

          8. make sure you don’t forget my most important rebuttal:
            I referenced Dr. Barry Sears not Dr. Al Sears.

          9. LOL. Next time you’re close to a dictionary, check out the difference between ‘rebuttal’ and ‘correction’.
            Neither of them actually apply, as you originally referred to plain old “Dr Sears.”

          10. I didn’t just refer to ‘plain old “Dr Sears.”‘;
            here is my quote where I clearly stated,
            the Sears who wrote books with certain titles:
            . if there is not a direct relation between sugar and alz
            the indirect one may look like this:
            sugar causes inflammation and inflammation causes alz;
            see Dr.Sears “the omega-rx zone” and “the anti-inflammation zone”.

          11. Not really a differentiator. See Dr Barry Sears is not the familiar figure you seem to think he is. You assume that I’m familiar with Dr Barry’s work, but other than knowing he’s yet another self-promoting media Doctor akin to Dr Al Sears, who also has a few anti inflammatory titles to his name, I don’t.
            Well, no. Dr Barry is not akin to Dr Al. I mean they are both self-promoting fadsters, but Dr Barry is everything that Dr Al wishes he was. Semi celebrity, selling yet another variant of low carb diet via heavily advertised best sellers, gazillionaire… While Dr Al is stuck in Florida, selling quack cures and expensive supplements while defending lawsuits, dodging postal inspectors, etc
            There’s a reason I pay only casual attention to fad diets and their promoters. Genuine researchers who believe they’re on to a unique phenomenon do actual research and invite peer review, then publish. People who need to cash in on a trend move fast and negotiate big ad budgets.
            Do yourself a favor. Search PubMed for “Zone Diet Research”

          12. well of course a Search of PubMed for “Zone Diet Research”
            brings up nothing related to the zone diet
            if your point is that there is no research on the zone diet
            try a Search of PubMed for barry sears.
            I had not been aware he wrote so many articles,
            in addition to his many well-referenced books;
            that was indeed a favor, thanks.

          13. You again?
            “…so many articles…”
            Oh holy sh!t–
            Barry Sears very own site lists him as co-author of a mere 43 articles, dating back to his school days. For a fellow whose research career started in the 70s, that’s a pretty thin publishing history. Of those, Pubmed has only indexed 16 articles that actually appeared in peer reviewed journals. By way of contrast, my primary care physician has close to 100 publications, all in peer reviewed journals, in a career half as long as Dr Barry’s.
            Perhaps you saw the 160+ articles with “BBarry [author]” and assumed they were all your hero’s?
            That your Dr B had published in such diverse fields as ‘pediatric cardiology’ (actually Dr Barbara Sears),
            ‘orthopedic surgery’ (actually Dr Benjamin W Sears)?
            Maybe ‘parasitology’ (actually Dr Brittany Sears)?
            Maybe you just saw a long list of credits and didn’t actually read them, or possibly you really did believe that 16 peer reviewed articles over a career spanning 40+ years amounted to “so many”.

          14. I searched for Barry Sears and that’s what I got.
            > Pubmed has only indexed 16 articles that
            > actually appeared in peer reviewed journals.
            — actually there were only 15 not 16
            since “Newsweek” is not peer reviewed
            but over at inflammationresearchfoundation’s site
            (research-results … published-research)
            it lists 17 peer-reviewed articles
            published by Dr.Barry Sears’s foundation.
            . his peer-reviewed articles 2003..2014
            are often related to his recent books about inflammation,
            high-dose fish-oil, moderate glycemic load,
            and minimization of omega-6 especially arachidonic acid.
            . sugar raises insulin that aggravates inflammation
            which may contribute to alzheimer’s.
            [“Immune attack: the role of inflammation in Alzheimer disease”]

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