Alzheimer’s Part 5, Nutrient Deficiency Results in Excess Blood Sugar and Insulin
The point of this series is the possible prevention of Alzheimer’s. If you missed previous parts of the series you may find them by searching under the keyword Alzheimer’s.
Part 4 highlighted how a nutrient deficiency in our diet makes us sick. The effects of nutrient deficiency begin many years before the overt signs of Alzheimer’s dementia show up. There are, however, many clues.
Those clues are inevitably high blood sugar and insulin, both of which will occur in major chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, retinopathy (eyes), kidney disease, neuropathy, PCOS – it’s a long list. We CAN see those effects.
Excess blood sugar coupled with the hormone insulin which struggles to keep it under control results in insulin resistance. “Resistance” is the body’s way of blocking too much of anything, in this case insulin. The problem with insulin resistance is that excess energy in the form of blood sugar and fat can’t be stored where it belongs, inside your cells.
So how does this “excess” occur? Typically it’s your food. This is where nutrient deficiency starts.
As suggested in Part 4, you are sure to be nutrient deficient if your diet contains all the trade-offs. Trade-offs are the things we eat instead of a whole food balanced diet. As an example, vegetables limited to starches like potatoes with little or no non-starchy vegetables and fruit. Primarily eating created foods that are an unfortunate mix of starch and seed oils (usually called vegetable oils) – including baked goods and sugar, pasta and noodles, bread, chips, seed oils themselves including foods fried in seed oils.
The more of those created foods in your diet, the more you yearn to eat. Nobody just sits around eating spoons of sugar. Instead we combine seed oils and sugar sources into tasty combinations (thought of as comfort food) that contribute huge numbers of calories of no nutritional value. The hungrier we become, the more we will eat (during and between meals), and the greater the likelihood we will gain extra body fat.
Each of us has a maximum body fat storage capacity. When you exceed your capacity, all the insulin in the world won’t store any more fat – at least not in your body fat. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get fatter. Instead your excess fat will be stored in and around your organs, like your liver, pancreas, kidneys, heart, etc. Ever heard of “fatty liver”?
In my case, my fat capacity is low. Consequently I didn’t have to be “fat” by most people’s definition to become diabetic. Each of us has a unique capacity determined genetically. You can’t tell by looking. You will tell by the presentation of illness, minor at first and then progressively more chronic.
In the end, the created foods that cause all of that progression are nutrient deficient. Now back to the brain.
As explained in Part 2, Alzheimer’s dementia is a fuel shortage marked by insulin resistance and the impaired capacity to generate energy.
Amy Berger, author of The Alzheimer’s Antidote, describes the condition succinctly.
“At its heart, AD is a fuel shortage in the brain. It is the result of the widespread starvation and death of neurons secondary to hyperinsulinemia (excessive amounts of insulin in the blood), insulin resistance, and a reduced capacity to metabolize glucose (convert glucose into energy).”
Your brain is the control center for your body. Even when you aren’t moving a muscle your brain is going full steam ahead. Despite its small size, your brain uses about 20% of the energy generated by your entire body. Energy production in your brain and the rest of your body, as explained in Part 3, requires those essential nutrients.
As outlined in Part 4, “With only a couple of exceptions, all of the essential nutrients are available in either meat or plants. A diet that includes meat and meat products such as eggs, healthy fats, and a variety of vegetables/fruits in some configuration or another suggests you are getting your nutrients and helping to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions.”
Let’s just clarify what was just said.
If you follow the nutrition field as much as I do, you will find there are people described as carnivores that only eat meat and meat products like eggs, people described as vegans that only eat plants, and people described as omnivores that mix things up. And there are subsets in each category. You will find VERY vocal advocates for any of these who are committed to convincing you that their diet is best.
The mixed omnivore diet is the most common, at least in the USA. This is the least extreme diet offering the most variety and flexibility in food choices and with great potential for nutrient density. Both vegans and omnivores, however, are those with the greatest potential for nutrient deficiency as well.
What causes the deficiency potential? First, a vegan diet is absent two essential nutrients, vitamin B12 and DHA/EPA. Secondly, some (if not most) vegans and omnivores tend to bypass the nutrients in real, whole food and eat, instead, large quantities of sugar/starches and seed oils processed into commercial products. These are the folks who tend to be overweight, plagued by chronic illnesses, and the most susceptible to Alzheimer’s.
So we arrive at the summary lessons of Part 5. You must feed the essential nutrients to your brain and your body. This will only happen if you eat whole food vegetables, fruit, meat, and non-seed oils. Bear in mind that any diet or food that leaves you hungry and makes your stomach hurt isn’t helping you prevent Alzheimer’s.
Part 6 gets to some other important factors peripheral to diet, sleep and stress. Don’t miss Part 6.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. She is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and member of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.