Whenever we give community talks, we say that sugar is the poison of the 20th century, and it is now everywhere. They are not just empty calories – they cause serious harm to the body. There is no doubt that it is a major contributor to chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia, but now there is evidence that it can start its damage as early as childhood. Sorry for the bad news! So before someone says it — we can tell you that the reason it feels like we can’t eat anything anymore is because we are now addicted to a diet that was imposed on us. When it comes to brain health, sugar can be found at the core of many of our diseases. Whether it is depression, stroke, or dementia you can find abnormal sugar metabolism at some level. Go back just 50 years ago and you can see we never had this much saturated fat (if at all), sugar, and processed food in our lives. We just have to go back to a less processed, whole food diet.
In a recent study by Dr. Lustig et al., reduction in dietary sugar for 9 days and replacing it with starchy foods in children with obesity and metabolic syndrome resulted in weight loss and significant improvement of levels of blood sugar, insulin, and cholesterol. We now know that type 2 diabetes contributes to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and those who have had diabetes, or even persistently elevated sugar levels during their midlife are at a very high risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a very interesting concept and currently, several academic centers are investigating this further. However, there is sufficient evidence that suggests we work towards eliminating sugar from our diet.