Tagged: Alzheimer’s

Science Tuesday: Type 3 Diabetes

By Stephanie Smith, Staff Writer

Just remember that continuously eating a handful of candy may lead to type 3 diabetes./PHOTO VIA Whole9

Candy actually can rot our brains.

Cavities aren’t all we have to worry about for this sweet treat season, type 3 diabetes is hidden in those sweets too.

Though these treats may be tempting and delicious, there’s a new reason that we may want to avoid eating them in excess. I’m sorry I have to be the one to break it to you, but we all have to face it sometime!

We’ve been told time and again that eating sweets can cause weight gain and could eventually result in type 2 diabetes. Now, after a decade of research, there’s evidence to prove that these sugar-packed snacks may also affect our brain. I guess all that candy can rot your brain. An article from Women’s Health explains the concept of brain diabetes and how this could easily affect us.

Neuropathologist at Brown University, Suzanne de La Monte, M.D., M.P.H. has worked with a team of researchers for a decade to uncover the truth about type 3 diabetes. The researchers found that insulin-resistant brain cells in rats caused them to show Alzheimer-like disease patterns, including neurodegeneration.

How does this happen?

First, let me refresh your memory on the process of insulin resistance. Every cell in the body needs glucose for energy, which you get from the food that you eat. Insulin is a hormone that’s produced in the pancreas, used to help cells take up glucose from the bloodstream for energy.

When we gorge ourselves with candy corn and chocolate, there’s an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, so more insulin is created. But, your cells can potentially become resistant to the increased insulin in your body.

When cells become insulin-resistant, they don’t get enough energy, so they deteriorate. Brain cells are easily affected by lack of energy resulting in memory loss and confusion, which are the trademark symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Does this mean that people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s?

According to The Hisayama Study from 2011, a group of Japanese researchers, say yes — obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are all linked.

De La Monte said in an interview with Women’s Health that since the obesity epidemic is expanding (and diabetes rates are soaring) these problems are sure to increase Alzheimer’s diagnosis in the U.S., which will stress our healthcare system and shorten our overall lifespan.

So how can we avoid this diagnosis and potential epidemic?

As a public health professional, De La Monte says the best way to reverse the problem is to prevent it completely. Stop the obesity epidemic and there will be fewer patients diagnosed with diabetes.

It’s also never too late to safeguard your own health, either. The most helpful method to avoid type 3 diabetes and potential complications is to cut back on sugar.

This doesn’t sound fun, but it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate sugar completely. By keeping sugar consumption to a minimum, you’re automatically at a lower risk of developing type 2 and type 3 diabetes.

But just because you’re reducing sugar intake doesn’t mean that you should substitute those treats with other unhealthy foods. Remember that consuming other unhealthy foods can cause weight gain and obesity that not only affects your development of Alzheimer’s, but also increases your likelihood for developing other chronic diseases.

So skip the candy apples and go for a real apple instead. It’ll taste just as good, be better for your teeth and better for your brain. Don’t over think it!

Science Tuesday: A cure for Alzheimer’s?

A healthy brain versus a brain with Alzheimer's/ PHOTO VIA alz.org

A healthy brain versus a brain with Alzheimer’s/ PHOTO VIA alz.org

By Christina Janansky, Staff Writer

Today, more than 5.4 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Research. And, unless some method of controlling or curing Alzheimer’s is discovered soon, a predicted 15 million Americans could live with the debilitating disease by 2050.

However, a recent MSN article suggests a new method of preventing the growing Alzheimer’s epidemic might lie in the near future.

Scientists are experimenting with a new Alzheimer’s treatment called deep brain stimulation, or DBS. Researchers hope the new approach—also known as a “brain pacemaker”—will slow the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s and replace current drugs and implants, according to the MSN article.

The 5-hour operational process, however, is anything but simple, as described in the article; small electrical wires are implanted in areas of the brain after several holes are drilled in the patient’s skull. While this new experimental method will not target the onset of Alzheimer’s, scientists hope it will slow the progression of memory loss and damage in patients.

Researchers do not know how long the new treatment’s effects will last. In fact, they are not sure the treatment will be successful at all. One patient of the treatment, a Canadian man who has had the implants for four years, shows promising results—his condition since the implants has not deteriorated. However, scientists cannot certainly attribute his success to DBS without further study.

In the meantime, several dozen people with early-staged Alzheimer’s will be implanted with the pacemakers in the upcoming months. These patients will be closely monitored and studied for the next several years.

In the MSN article, researchers at Ohio State University explained how constant electrical stimulation of memory-linked brain circuits might keep neural networks active for longer. This, they hope, will hinder the damaging effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

DBS has been used previously and in a variety of patients, including those suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. However, this is the first time it is being used with Alzheimer’s patients.

Scientists are not only testing DBS in major diseases and illnesses such as these, but are also exploring its effects in parts of the brain that are linked with depression and appetite.

Although it’s still too soon to say, DBS may be the answer not only to treating Alzheimer’s, but also to curing and preventing it.

Who knows? It might be a cure-it-all in regards to other mental illnesses, imbalances and functions. Only time will tell.