Do you want to recognize your children and your grandchildren as you grow older? Do you want to not get lost when you venture less than a block from home? Do you need yet another reason to cut back on junk food? If you said yes to these questions, staying away from soda, doughnuts, processed meats and fries could allow you to keep your mind intact as you grow older. Research is showing that Alzheimer’s disease could well be a form of diet-induced diabetes.
Alzheimer's is a devastating disease that reduces brain function. Over a period of decades, the mind gets taken away bit by bit causing a person to feel out of sorts and disoriented, unable to remember basic thoughts and ideas. Alzheimer’s begins as odd memory gaps but then steadily erodes one’s life to the point where help is needed with basic activities of daily living. Those in the final stages of the disease are reliant on around-the-clock care as even swallowing one’s own saliva, is impossible. Alzheimer’s disease is ultimately fatal and it is a demoralizing way for one to die. (What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?)
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer’s disease was first identified more than 100 years ago, but research into its symptoms, causes, risk factors and treatment has gained momentum only in the last 30 years. Its cause is not altogether known however, a diet high in fat and sugar has long been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer's (Alzheimer’s Association).The Association also notes that one in eight Americans, over the age of 65, has the Alzheimer’s disease and it is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.
According to Reuters, Alzheimer’s affects about 5.1 million Americans today. These levels are expected to double by 2050, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent, slow or stop the disease. And within this timeframe, annual related healthcare costs are predicted to soar to more than $1 trillion. Because of the massiveness of this statistic, President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act in 2011. Reuters reports that $50 million was set aside for research in 2012, with another $100 million earmarked for fiscal 2013.
So now, having an awareness of the Alzheimer’s disease and its colossal impact on our society, let us turn to the statistics on diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Another 79 million have higher glucose levels than normal but not high enough for an immediate diagnosis of diabetes; these people are at risk of further developing it. The ADA also reports that the total annual cost of diagnosed diabetes is $174 billion in the United States.
I fully understand these statistics because I am one of the 26 million. And because I am a diabetic, I am well versed on the subject.
Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism— the way the body uses digested food for growth and energy. Most of the food people eat is broken down into glucose, the form of sugar in the blood. Glucose is the main source of fuel for the body.
After digestion, glucose passes into the bloodstream, where it is used by cells for growth and energy. For glucose to get into cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach. In the brain, insulin keeps the blood vessels that supply it, healthy.
When people eat, the pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into the cells. In people with diabetes, however, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the kidneys and passes out of the body in the urine. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.
There are two commonly known