diabetes in the news

The Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s Disease among Individuals with Diabetes

Higher amounts of sugar in the bloodstream can cause the brain to be more active and release a substance called beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is a protein that can clump together and lead to the formation of plaque in the brain. Accumulation of this substance is said to be associated with the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s. Some concentrations of Beta-amyloid can be more damaging to the body in smaller groupings rather than in larger ones. These groupings and clumps can interfere with signals of cell-to-cell communication at the synapses. Often these types of plaques and groupings are seen in cases of patients having dementia.


The study which appeared in the May 2023 publication of Medical News Today, demonstrates the direct effect that increased sugar consumption has on Beta-amyloid in the brain. In this study, researchers have found that ATP-sensitive potassium channels (KATP) regulate cell activity and are based on energy levels. The ATP-sensitive potassium channels function in metabolic changes, neuron activity as well as the production of beta-amyloid in the brain. Disruption of neuron activity affects the overall functionality of the brain. The overall brain function is disrupted since the plaque collects between the cells, therefore interrupting the way these cells “communicate” with one another.

The study further demonstrated that the consumption of sugar vs regular water led to a greater accumulation of amyloid plaque.

In the article, Dr. Merrill stated that “Early identification and correction of underlying drivers of Alzheimer’s disease, like suboptimal elevation of blood sugar levels and the associated insulin resistance, may be more effective than treatments aimed at cleaning up the mess of plaques that are left behind once the synapses and neurons are already dead and gone”.

With this said, monitoring the amount of sugar consumption and glucose levels in patients with and without diabetes can act as a preventative. Many times, when people think about complications of diabetes they often think of blindness, losing limbs, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. However, with the above study and its findings, an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease can be added to the list of possible complications of uncontrolled blood sugar.

Article by IDS intern, Morgan Malatesta