Willy Who and the What Factory? Sugar and Alzheimer’s
In Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, a type of cake known as a Madeleine triggered an episode of involuntary memory. In real life, however, sugary foods like chocolate and cake may contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, according to Washington School of Medicine researchers. Just to be clear, we are talking about the actual foodstuffs here, not the movie Chocolat – which makes you wish you had Alzheimer just so you could forget watching it – or the band Cake – which just makes you wish you were deaf.
“Our results suggest that diabetes, or other conditions that make it hard to control blood sugar levels, can have harmful effects on brain function and exacerbate neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease,” lead author Shannon Macauley said. “This observation opens up a new avenue of exploration for how Alzheimer’s disease develops in the brain as well as offers a new therapeutic target for the treatment of this devastating neurologic disorder.” The researchers found that high levels of blood sugar in mice increased the levels of amyloid beta – the main component of plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
On the other hand, another study – this one from the University of Missouri – found that green tea (which in Sheridan Le Fanu’s eponymous story led to a character being haunted by an evil monkey that only he could see) could decrease and even stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice. “Consumption of natural products as potential remedies to prevent and treat diseases and to maintain human health is an ancient one,” the study’s authors wrote in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. “Further study of the commonly found extract could lead to advancements in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease in humans.”