Scientists from Tulane University now believe the lifestyle many people live may contribute to them getting Alzheimer's later in life.
There is new evidence that shows being out of shape and a poor diet can take a toxic toll on the brain.
The discovery is making news in the scientific community, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Research, but Tulane researchers hope it makes news around your kitchen table. They discovered how you treat you body could mean the difference in getting Alzheimer's or not.
"Typically in America - what happens is that you become grossly overweight, you become insulin resistant, and then if that's not reversed you become diabetic," said Dr. David Busija.
Dr. Busija is the Pharmacology Chair at Tulane. He found that the lining of the blood vessels that nourish brain cells can't deliver oxygen rich blood efficiently when two things are present: high blood sugar, and the protein associated with brain plaques in those with Alzheimer's. The cells even begin to die.
"It's a little bit of starvation over a long period of time, and that really fits the profile if you look at the time course of Alzheimer's," said Dr. Busija. "It takes a long time to develop except in people that have a genetic propensity towards Alzheimer's."
And he says what's frightening is that once a person goes from insulin resistant or pre-diabetes to Type 2 diabetes, even with controlled blood sugar, those blood vessel lining cells have memory of sorts and still act toxic when exposed to that Alzheimer's protein.
"I think the most important thing is to keep blood glucose levels within the normal range," said Dr. Busija. "We need to change our behavior in order for us to be healthier."
As the holidays approach, this groundbreaking science may make you rethink desserts, breads and starchy foods.
Dr. Busija says diet, exercise, weight loss and normal blood sugar levels are the best ways to protect the brain. Researchers are also working on special types of anti-oxidants to help prevent this toxic reaction.