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Sugar does rot your brain after all: Scientists connect to Alzheimer's

Is Alzheimer's triggered by too much sugar? We have long known that consuming too much sugar is related to obesity and diabetes. A new UK study has found a molecular "tipping point," where a crucial enzyme related to insulin regulation is damaged by excess glucose. This may have a major impact on our understanding of the cognitive disease along with our diet.

 

 

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Time to lower your sugar intake.


Scientists from the University of Bath have just found the first connection between excess blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers in this unprecedented study found what they describe as a molecular "tipping point," where a crucial enzyme related to inflammation response and insulin regulation is damaged by excess glucose. While the scientists involved do not make the direct assertion, the takeaway is Alzheimer's disease may be triggered by consuming too much sugar.

This potentially groundbreaking study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, could have major implications for our understanding of Alzheimer's and its relationship with our diet. Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative neurological condition that impacts 5.5 million Americans and an estimated 46 million people worldwide.

While we have long known sugar's link to obesity and diabetes, our understanding of its relationship with Alzheimer's has been less studied. This latest research offers greater credence for Alzheimer's to be referred to as Type 3 Diabetes. Earlier studies have showcased a those with diabetes have a greater prevalence of Alzheimer's.

How Did Researchers Establish This Link?

The scientists relied on donated brain tissue from both those with and without Alzheimer's. The brain tissue was provided by Brains for Dementia Research, a large brain bank network with a mission of advancing research into dementia.

The brains of those who were in the early stages of Alzheimer's had the crucial enzyme MIF (macrophage migration inhibitory factor) that was damaged. The enzyme, which is related to inflammation response and insulin regulation, was injured through a process called glycation. The researchers believe that the tipping point for Alzheimer's to progress may be when MIF is damaged through glycation. As Alzheimer's advances, so does the glycation of the MIF enzymes.

“Normally MIF would be part of the immune response to the build-up of abnormal proteins in the brain, and we think that because sugar damage reduces some MIF functions and completely inhibits others that this could be a tipping point that allows Alzheimer's to develop."-Professor Jean van den Elsen (University of Bath), commenting about the study in its press release.

We Consume a Lot of Added Sugars in Our Diet

The average American drinks about 38 gallons of soda each year. A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains around 14 1/2 teaspoons of added sugar. As nutritionists have been arguing for years, we are consuming too much sugar. The heighten blood sugar level (hyperglycemia) from our consumption of soda and other sugary items has already been clearly established as increasing the likelihood of obesity and diabetes.

This latest research has uncovered the specific molecular link between glucose and Alzheimer's. So forget the extra pounds from drinking too much soda and eating too many donuts: sugar may be truly rotting your brain.

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.

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The key to better quality education? Make students feel valued.

Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.

Future of Learning
  • Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
  • One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
  • "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
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Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

A truck pulls out of a large Walmart regional distribution center on June 6, 2019 in Washington, Utah.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
  • Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
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Personal Growth

Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.

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