How High Blood Sugar Can Promote Alzheimer’s Disease

| March 13, 2017

It is well known that diabetes patients are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, compared to people without the condition. In fact, as I mentioned here, some researchers feel that Alzheimer’s disease could be accurately described as type 3 diabetes, since it is a form of insulin dysfunction in the brain that has features in common with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Now, for the first time, scientists at the University of Bath and Kings College London have shown exactly how high blood glucose can drive the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.1 There was already good evidence that glucose damages proteins in brain cells by a process called glycation, but the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer’s disease was not understood before being revealed in this study.

By studying brain samples from people with and without Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers discovered that, in the early stages of the illness, glycation damages an enzyme called MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) which plays an important role in regulating the action of insulin and controlling the immune system. MIF also directs the way brain cells called glia react to the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers believe that by inhibiting and reducing MIF activity through glycation, high blood levels of glucose cause a “tipping point” to be reached that enables Alzheimer’s disease to develop and progress. As Dr Omar Kassaar, a University of Bath researcher involved in the study, put it: “Excess sugar is well known to be bad for us when it comes to diabetes and obesity, but this potential link with Alzheimer’s disease is yet another reason that we should be controlling our sugar intake in our diets.”

And, of course, a low-sugar, low-carb, diet should be the mainstay of any diabetes prevention or treatment programme. In my next blog post, I report on new evidence that a high-fat, ketogenic diet can reduce blood sugar levels and reverse other metabolic risk factors. It could even help to restore insulin production where this has been lost, in type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Wishing you the best of health,

Martin Hum
PhD DHD Nutritionist
for Real Diabetes Truth

Bear in mind we are not addressing anyone’s personal situation and you should rely on this for informational purposes only. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.


1. Kassaar O, Morais MP, Xu S et al. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor is subjected to glucose modification and oxidation in Alzheimer’s disease. Sci Rep. 2017; 7:42874.

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Category: Diabetes Risks

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