The Alzheimer’s and Sugar Connection

There are plenty of good reasons why you want to kick sugar out of your life, but keeping your brain intact is the latest and maybe the most important.


Most people will agree that one of their greatest fear is death, but what people fear even more than dying is the loss of their mental capabilities. No one wants to forget loved ones and cherished memories, not to mention forgetting how to tie their shoes, or needing help to go to the bathroom.

While the exact reasons why we get Alzheimer’s disease remain a mystery, scientist have recently made astounding discoveries that point to a connection between Alzheimer’s and sugar consumption. If the bulk of Alzheimer’s disease can be blamed on eating sugars and foods that act like sugar, then we have a great opportunity to avoid the mental decay we see so often in the elderly.

New Alzheimer’s Discoveries

Scientists have discovered some pretty interesting things about people with Alzheimer’s.

First, scientists discovered that the brain produces insulin. This is astounding because it was previously thought that the only place in the body that produce insulin was the pancreas. What’s more, the amount of insulin in the brain produces plummets in Alzheimer’s patients as the disease progresses. In fact, on of the signs of the beginning of the disease is a noticeable drop in brain insulin. Scientists are beginning to wonder if the progression of the disease can actually be measured by the amount of brain insulin.

These findings point to the possibility of insulin resistance developing in the brain separate from the rest of the body.

Insulin is a hormone and it doesn’t travel alone in the brain. There are other chemicals in the brain known as insulin-like growth factors  and these also decrease when insulin decreases. It is the absence of these insulin-like growth factors that are thought to lead to brain cell death, and the brain cell death occurs especially in areas responsible for memory such as the hippocampus and hypothalamus.

Alzheimer’s Sugar Connection

It has long been known that people with diabetes have a greater chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease, but these new studies are the first to show that there may be a closer relationship between sugar and Alzheimer’s disease. For puzzling reasons, the two diseases are interrelated, but not the same disease. Some people who have diabetes don’t get Alzheimer’s and some people with Alzheimer’s disease don’t have diabetes.

The key question is what causes insulin to drop in the brain? If insulin production in the brain is similar to what happens to the rest of the body, then the drop in insulin is due to an overworked system that is constantly overloaded with too much blood sugar.

Avoid the Inevitable

There are so many diseases we see as inevitable: heart disease, cancer, dementia, arthritis. If you are growing old, you are bound to get one or all of those diseases.

It doesn’t have to be that way! You can avoid a majority of those diseases (including Alzheimer’s) by choosing the foods you eat wisely. The best way to stop or reduce sugar is to take my 30 Sugar Free Days Challenge. It is a great program that leads you from your current high sugar path to a healthier path.


Since I originally wrote this article, new information has come to light.

Not only is sugar destroying our brains but there are proteins inside grains (especially wheat and especially gluten) that have a dramatic impact on the way we think and how healthy our brains are. I’ll be writing a new post about it sometime soon, but for now take a look at this book:

About the Author

I'm Dr. Scott Olson ND. I'm a Naturopathic doctor who specializes in diet, health, nutrition, and alternative medicine. I've written numerous books and articles on health, medicine, and alternative medicine I want to help you get healthy! Take a look at my blog and make sure you join in the conversation!

37 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. DL March 15, 2014 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Hi, Dr. Scott,… Just want to say THANK YOU. I discovered your challenge 2 years ago, and, as a result lost 10 lbs, going beyond the 30 days of your No Sugar Challenge. I backslid and gained the 10 lbs back. I am on my way back down, sticking more closely to having no processed sugar on my daily menu. I am reading Grain Brain, and a lot of what I read in your book 2 years ago is “right on”. Can you shed some light on “dried fruit”? I have a daily serving of dried mango’s…which include 32 gr of sugar. Everything I read says that dried fruit that it is a better way to get a bit of sweetness. I have been able to keep myself to one serving, and my overall intake of carbs is an average of 75 carbs with the dried mangoes… Thanks in advance. (I am an admitted sugarholic…and other than the dried mangoes I have been able to stay away from all the other stuff.) Thanks in advance.

    • Dr. Scott March 16, 2014 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Thank you so much for your comments!

      Grain Brain is a great book and meshes nicely with my program. The issue with dried fruit is that you have removed all the moisture and, therefore, have reduced the volume. The net result is a concentrated form of sugar. I don’t think it is a problem when used in moderation, but it is very easy to overeat it.

      It sounds like you know your body well, just pay attention and see how you are doing.

      Best of luck!

      Dr. Scott

  2. KAENLM March 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I have brain atrophy at 45 years of age–(it is major depression/accelerated aging)-my neurologist said I am going to get dementia–it runs in my family (I always have loved sugar)–it calms me down–and when I am nervous–I crave it, I eat salads and take green tea (EGCG) tablets–as long as my triglycerides are down–I will eat all the sugar I want..I am having vertigo though–and I do think sugar & acid reflux is making it worse–but I love sweets..

    • Dr. Scott March 6, 2012 at 9:11 am - Reply


      A no-sugar diet should help, consult with your local doctor.


  3. JB January 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Sugar is what killed my mother. My sister who lived with my mom and fed my mom pies, ice cream and all kinds of sweets. My sister knew better than to feed my mom sweets. I lived out of town and didn’t have any control of the situation. My sister even laughed about how much sweets she was feeding my mom. My sister is an alcholic which made it impossible to deal with.
    Please don’t feed your loved one sweets. Try a probiotic to try to get rid of their yeast infection. Sugar causes an overblowned yeast infection in the gut.

  4. JB January 27, 2012 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    As long as you are alive its not too late to try to reverse what ills you. Get rid of the sugar. Why are you consuming sugar in the first place? Why put limits on a person’s life?

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