Sugar and Saturated Fats Help Set Stage for Alzheimer’s

  • Most of us know that saturated fats and simple sugars are not good for us. They increase the risk of heart disease. They increase  risk of diabetes. Recently, another study has concluded that they may help set the stage for Alzheimer’s disease, as well.


    The study, conducted by Angela J. Hanson MD, Jennifer L. Bayer-Carter PhD and colleagues, found that eating a high-fat sugary diet, even for a short time, robs the brain of a chemical called apolipoprotein E (ApoE). When present, ApoE bonds with the toxic form of beta-amyloid that can build up and form the gummy plaques in the brain and then clears the beta-amyloid away. It's commonly thought that these beta-amyloid caused plaques in the brain indicate the presence of Alzheimer’s disease.

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    The researchers stated that this study doesn’t prove that a high-fat sugary diet ultimately leads to Alzheimer’s disease. The do say, however, that diet is likely one of many factors that may be involved in the disease and can adversely affect the brain, even if the poor diet is followed for a relatively short period of time.


    Dr. Deborah Blacker, director of the Gerontology Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in an editorial accompanying the study said that , "…[this study] adds another small piece to the growing evidence that taking good care of your heart is probably good for your brain too.”


    Mediterranean diet provides nutrients and flavor with fewer negatives

    Scientists researching several diseases have been studying the effects of a Mediterranean diet on health. Lead researcher Dr. Georgios Tsivgoulis, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham as well as the University of Athens, Greece, said that, "Greater adherence to Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment.”


    A Mediterranean diet consists of olive oil, nuts, fish, tomatoes, poultry, cruciferous vegetables, fruit, and dark and green leafy vegetables. In general, people who follow this diet consume fewer high fat dairy products and less red meat, organ meats and butter.


    This diet seems to be close to ideal to maintain optimum health. The Mediterranean diet is heavy on olive oil, which is comprised of beneficial monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) rather than damaging saturated fats.  It concentrates on fruits and nuts rather than large servings of sweets loaded with simple sugars, as well. Since a healthy diet combined with moderate exercise has been repeatedly shown to provide us with the best chance we may have of staying physically and cognitively healthy, these lifestyle changes should be high on our to-do lists for the coming year.


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    Diet May Prime the Brain for Alzheimer’s. Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Center. Retrieved from

  • Reinberg, S. (2013, April 29) Mediterranean Diet Might Help Stave Off Dementia: Large study showed better retention of mental skills in seniors who had followed it. Health Day. Retrieved from

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    Liu, D. (2012, October 29) Dietary pattern identified to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Food Retrieved from


    Angela J. Hanson MD, Jennifer L. Bayer-Carter PhD, et al: “Effect of Apolipoprotein E Genotype and Diet on Apolipoprotein E Lipidation and Amyloid Peptides: Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Neurology, Vol. 70 (No. 6), 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.396

    Bardi, J. (2012, June 21) Preventing or Better Managing Diabetes May Prevent Cognitive Decline, According to UCSF Study. University of California San Francisco. Retrieved from


Published On: December 16, 2013