A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that a type of sugar called fructose could be a driver of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). An important aspect of survival is to assure enough food, water, and oxygen. When threatened with the possibility of starvation, humans developed an instinct response that sent them foraging for food. Researchers at the US University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus indicated that the entire foraging response was set in motion by the metabolism of fructose whether it was eaten or produced in the body. The fructose induces insulin resistance and preserve glucose, source for immediate energy needs. Authors indicated that fructose could reduce metabolism in brain regions involved in higher cognitive functions.
Richard Johnson, first author of the study, called this survival response the “survival switch”. He argued that if this “survival switch” is permanently on, this could lead to the overeating of high-fat, sugary and salty food prompting excess fructose production. Although this pathway is beneficial at short-term, high levels of fructose could alter brain metabolism. A chronic and persistent reduction in brain metabolism might lead to progressive brain atrophy and neuron loss and cause degeneration of brain regions associated with AD. Researchers recommended more studies on the role of fructose metabolism in AD to determine whether there is potential benefit in the prevention, management, or treatment of this disease.