Sugar And Dementia (Makes It Worse?)

sugar and dementia

We reviewed numerous studies that suggest a possible link between sugar and dementia.

This is after researchers confirmed that consuming TOO much sugar in any form puts a person at a higher risk of getting dementia.

One longitudinal study exposed the fact that persons with high levels of blood sugar experience faster cognitive decline rates than the ones with normal blood sugar levels.

Another study by Melissa Schilling reveals that elevated insulin plays a huge role in the development of dementia.

Seeing that too much sugar is one of the RISK factors of dementia, which still has no cure, to date, it is important to keenly study the relationship between the two to find out how both factors reconcile.

Below you will uncover some of the ways that consuming too much sugar can increase the risk of developing dementia EVEN at a young age.

Poor Insulin Control

poor insulin control
When your body always has to deal with insulin resistance, it means that you will be at a higher risk of developing dementia.

Note that when you eat different types of food, including sugar, starches, and carbohydrates, the body breaks them down into glucose.

When the digestion process takes place, the small intestines and the stomach absorb all the glucose and then sends it into your bloodstream.

Insulin, which is a hormone that the pancreas produces, transports the sugar/glucose in the bloodstream to the cells in your muscles and other organs.

Your body will produce MORE insulin when the levels of blood sugar are too high. This implies that insulin will, essentially, try to give the cells more sugar.

When this happens, the cells are bound to try and protect themselves from insulin’s powerful effect, thus creating insulin resistance.

The pancreas then responds to this resistance by giving the body even more insulin. This creates a vicious cycle where insulin resistance results in higher blood sugar levels.

Where there is an insulin spike, too much glucose will find its way to the brain through the bloodstream. This will eventually DESTROY the cells in the brain, a move that can lead to the development of dementia.

An Overdose of Glucose in Brain Cells

an overdose of glucose in brain cells
The brain needs glucose as a source of energy.

However, when there is too much sugar in the brain, the cells in this organ can easily absorb the glucose.

It is worth noting that brain cells, unlike other cells in the body, do not require insulin to absorb glucose. This means that the cells in the brain will DIRECTLY absorb the glucose from the bloodstream because sugar usually crosses the barrier in the brain fast.

When too much sugar is flowing in the brain, it will NOT PRODUCE useful mental energy. This is because the brain can only convert sugar into energy with the help of insulin.

After a long period of consuming simple carbohydrates and sugar, the brain will have an overflow of sugar that is not beneficial in any way.

In fact, when talking about sugar and dementia, it is safe to say that a high insulin load will prevent the brain from using glucose as a source of energy because it will have excess levels.

When the brain cells do not get the energy they need from glucose, they eventually die off one of the events that lead to the onset of dementia.

The sad fact is that brain cells get too much sugar but CANNOT make good use of it.

Too Much Sugar Clogs the Brain and Causes Inflammation

too much sugar clogs the brain and causes inflammation
Another front that shows evidence of the link between sugar and dementia is the fact that obese individuals have a doubled risk of developing dementia.

Most people will become overweight because of a poor diet that mostly consists of too much sugar.

As a result, this causes clumps in the brain that affect how it functions. To better understand this concept, it is essential to know that obese persons typically have TOO MANY amyloid proteins in the brain.

These proteins are toxic to the brain because they stick together and start forming clumps. These clumps are usually present in the brains of people who have different forms of dementia.

In the medical world, there is still a huge debate as to whether the clumps that amyloid proteins form are responsible for dementia even though they are generally present in persons who already have dementia.

Experts also believe that HIGH sugar amounts in the body can cause inflammation.

Inflammation has been LINKED to dementia, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Inflammation inside the body is akin to a swollen red, infection on the skin that is full of puss.

When there is inflammation in the brain or other parts of the body, the body has to get into a position where it is always fighting infections.

When this happens, it will lead to cognition breaking down because the brain, as well as the blood vessels, are irritated and swollen.

Eating Sugar Leads to Addiction

eating sugar leads to addiction
Experts have established that excess sugar in the brain can impair both cognitive skills as well as self-control. Many people experience cravings after consuming a little sugar.

Sugar is known to have a drug-like effect on the brain’s reward center. Scientists propose that sweet, salty, and fatty foods can produce addiction effects in the brain.

This results in overeating, loss of self-control, and CONSEQUENTLY weight gain.

This drive, on the other hand, can lead to excess amounts of sugar in the brain, which is a dementia risk factor.

Too much sugar in the brain is harmful as it can result in deficits in attention, memory, and slow cognitive function.

Too much Sugar Leads to Strokes

too-much sugar leads to strokes
Another possible variable when discussing sugar and dementia is the fact that too much glucose in the blood vessels can lead to stroke.

This is because a spike in blood sugar can cause the vessels to become weak. Meaning, they will not function as they should leading to strokes, which can make a person get various dementia forms.

In such a case, the brain cells will die because they lack oxygen.

How to Reduce Adverse Effects of Sugar and Dementia

how to reduce adverse effects of sugar and dementia
It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to cut off sugar in your diet, seeing that most fruits are loaded with sugar. This, however, does not mean that you should not try and limit the amount of sugar that goes into your system.

There are several steps you can take to prevent getting dementia because of too much sugar like:

Balancing blood sugar

balancing blood sugar
This has everything to do with the things that you put into your mouth.

Avoid those high-fat and sugar diets because they will only lead you into trouble. Take off the unhealthy stuff that includes alcohol, refined carbs, caffeine, dairy, processed foods, etc.

Instead, your diet should constitute healthy alternatives like leafy green vegetables, nuts, good fats, and grass-fed meats, among many others.

These foods are not only great for your waistline, but they will also make the brain very happy.

If you are NOT TOO sure about the foods to be eating, it is best to work with a dietician who will give you proper guidance.

Remember that sugars present in soft drinks and sweets can lead to a spike in blood sugar levels. The ones from complex carbs are absorbed in a slower rate.


Another way to tame blood sugar is to get physically active. This helps to reduce blood sugar levels and weight if need be.

If you have not been working out for long, try and schedule at least 150 minutes of exercise every week.

You DO NOT have to go into a gym or start working with an expensive professional trainer.

Brisk walking for a few minutes every day can do the trick. Take short but frequent breaks as you walk. This can be as short as forty seconds or one minute.

This can help to lower blood sugar effectively.

Some experts also advise taking a walk after meals. Exercising can also mean taking the stairs more than using the lift, parking a little further from your destination, and moving around if you sit around for hours.

When you are more active, your muscles will increase their glucose intake, which will prevent instances of insulin resistance.

Get enough rest and avoid stress

get enough rest and avoid stress
Giving the body enough rest is crucial if you want to protect the health of your brain. This includes getting quality sleep and listening to your body when it needs to rest.

Additionally, it is also important to avoid stress triggers because they are not good for your health.

Do things that you love and enjoy and talk to a trustworthy person if you feel like things are getting out of hand to keep stress at bay.

Sugar and Dementia Conclusion

It is now evident that there is a connection between sugar and dementia.

Experts agree that faster cognitive decline happens when there are high sugar levels in the blood, whether the sugar levels make a person diabetic or not.

It is one of the reasons why you should control sugar consumption while ADOPTING a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of dementia and other diseases.

Diabetes and Dementia – Are They Related?

diabetes and dementia

Scientists, over the years, continue to link diabetes and dementia. Does sugar have a negative effect on a dementia-infected brain?

There are over twenty million people with diabetes in America alone.

Around six million of these individuals do not even know that they have diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the USA.

What is Diabetes

Diabetes is an illness that decreases the ability of the body to convert sugar into energy. When a person with diabetes fails to control the condition, the blood remains with too much sugar.

Over time, this can lead to the damage of multiple organs in the body, including the brain.

It creates a dangerous spiral where the causes of diabetes can also result in mental deterioration.

Dementia, on the other hand, is a brain disorder that affects emotions, thinking, behavior and, to some extent, the ability to perform daily tasks.

It can reduce life expectancy as well as the quality of a person’s life.

Some studies reveal that people who have both diabetes and dementia die faster than the ones who only have dementia.

Researchers and scientists are finding more evidence linking diabetes primarily Type 2 diabetes to memory loss issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

However, it is worth mentioning that there is still no concrete evidence on precisely what cause’s dementia and how diabetes comes into play.

It is also worth mentioning that not everyone who has diabetes will end up with dementia.

Doctors, however, do know that high insulin or blood sugar levels can harm the brain in multiple ways like:

Causing Chemical Imbalance in the Brain

causing chemical imbalance in the brain
Your brain depends on several chemicals in the body to function properly. Too much insulin can affect these chemicals, causing an imbalance.

Such changes occurring in the brain can trigger dementia, as well as other illnesses.

Development of Other Medical Conditions

development of other medical conditions
A person who has diabetes has a high risk of developing other medical conditions like:

  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Joint and bone problems
  • Kidney diseases
  • Digestive problems
  • Nerve damage
  • Eye damage
  • Yeast infection

These could hurt organs like the heart and blood vessels as well.

Damaged blood vessels usually imply that the brain will not get enough oxygen and nutrients; another factor that can contribute to vascular dementia.

This is a kind of dementia that occurs because of brain damage that mostly comes about because of blocked or reduced blood flow to the brain.

Increasing Risk of Cerebrovascular Diseases

increasing risk of cerebrovascular diseases
A high percentage of people who have diabetes are at high risk of developing cerebrovascular illnesses.

These are triggered by things such as oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, insulin resistance, and inflammation.

Additionally, as the brain continues to age, because of changes in amyloid metabolism and other related factors, it becomes easier to develop memory issues.

Structural changes in the brain show some evidence of the association between diabetes and dementia.

Affecting How the Brains Handles Insulin

affecting how the brains handles insulin
Ongoing research also points out that the link between the two medical conditions may happen as a result of the ways that diabetes affects the brain’s ability to respond to insulin and use glucose (sugar).

Note that glucose is the main source of energy for the brain.

Therefore, when cognitive function is affected, because of low levels of blood glucose, the outcome can be severe neuronal damage.

Insulin resistance makes the body producing more insulin than necessary in a bid to keep the glucose levels within a healthy range.

This can also affect the brain in that high levels of insulin can damage small blood vessels and other brain cells. Insulin resistance also affects other parts of the body.

When not enough insulin is making its way to the brain, it does not only cause the brain to function normally. It can also be the cause of a person developing small strokes, which increases dementia.

Causing Inflammation

causing inflammation
When there is a spike in blood sugar, it can easily lead to inflammation affecting the brain and other parts of the body. This naturally leads to the damage of brain cells.

It is another factor that can lead to the development of dementia.

Chronic inflammation often leads to the formation of tau tangles and amyloid plaques brain abnormalities that are hallmarks of dementia illness.

Increase the Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment

increase the risk of mild cognitive impairment
When talking about diabetes and dementia, it is worth noting that diabetes also contributes to the increased risk of developing MCI (mild cognitive impairment).

This is a condition where you end up experiencing more memory and cognitive (thinking) problems than the ones present as people age.

It is a set of symptoms where individuals struggle to remember things that they already know and also have issues with the ability to think.

Initially, these memory problems are usually not severe enough to bring about challenges with day-to-day living.

Eventually, some studies claim that people with MCI get dementia. MCI has been known to accompany or precede dementia.

Build-Up of Proteins in the Blood

build up of proteins in the blood
Diabetes has also been known to contribute to the build-up of toxic proteins in the brain that is associated with dementia.

When there is too much protein in the brain, it disrupts the functioning of synapses, which are the connections that are formed between brain cells helping information to circulate to and from the brain.

The brain, at this point, may not be able to clear out the waste products.

In line with this, recent studies also reveal that elevated glucose levels in the blood can increase amyloid beta levels.

This is one of the significant components of brain plague in persons who have dementia. A build-up of plaque is thought to be a driver of complex changes in the brain leading to the development of different types of dementia.

Diabetes makes it challenging to control healthy levels of blood sugar.

This results in harmful effects on a person’s brain, increasing the risk of dementia onset.

When there is a lot of glucose in the blood, it may lead to increased neuron activity in the brain, which promotes the production of amyloid beta.

Type 1 Diabetes Causes Higher Risk of Dementia

type 1 diabetes causes higher risk of dementia
Earlier, the article mentioned that most people with type 2 diabetes are likely to develop dementia as well.

There have also been other studies indicating that people who have Type 1 diabetes are also at risk of developing dementia.

Research shows that individuals with this type of diabetes typically face a higher risk of developing memory and thinking problems as they age compared to the general population.

Around 83% of seniors with type 1 diabetes are at risk of getting dementia as well.

With type 1 diabetes, a person’s immune system attacks insulin mistakenly triggering the production of beta cells in the pancreas. This leaves the persons with this type of diabetes with little or even no insulin in the body.

Insulin is an essential hormone in the body that enables the body to use up carbohydrates as fuel.

Individuals with type 1 diabetes are also at risk of getting hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) that could be another link between diabetes and dementia.

A Decline in Cognitive Function

a decline in cognitive function
It is common for people who have diabetes to experience a progressive decline in cognitive function. This has been recorded as one of the factors that usually cause the development of dementia.

The risk of getting one or more types of dementia is two-fold in seniors who have diabetes compared to their age mates.

This does not happen all at once but rather as the diabetes disease progresses, affecting more parts of the body.

With most diabetics, dementia is usually diagnosed after about three years of having diabetes.

Diabetes also accelerates issues like diabetic foot, microvascular diseases, cerebrovascular illnesses, acute metabolic events, and depression, among many others that may accelerate the onset of dementia.

Closing Remarks

When a person has one chronic disease, it is usually too much to deal with.

Sadly, there are some chronic illnesses like diabetes that frequently compound the effects of another to not only worsen the condition but also increase an individual’s risk of developing new conditions like dementia.

To stay healthy, it is important to work with your health care team to manage or prevent diabetes in a bid to reduce or completely avoid the complications it brings.

Proper diabetes management may involve things like:

  • Sticking to your doctor’s advice on how to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce alcohol intake.
  • Eating healthy foods including lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean meats, low-fat cheese, and milk.
  • Managing a healthy weight.
  • Keep physically active (try and work out at least thirty minutes daily).
  • Remain socially and mentally active and engaged to reduce the risk of getting dementia.
  • Taking any prescribed medication on time.
  • Examining your feet for sores on a daily basis.

Working with an effective diabetes prevention or management plan can successfully lower the development of various types of dementia.

There is still a need for further studies and research into the relationship between diabetes and dementia.

This way, we can fully understand the correlation to come up with the most appropriate solutions to tackle the conditions.

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