Exploring links between fat, sugar and even Alzheimer’s

Readers had some interesting comments on the subject of obesity.  I would like to share them.  Shirley sent a Web site about a study showing that recovering from an illness or an operation, or even plagued with chronic diseases, obese people feel pain more acutely than normal weight people. Gary said that fat people know they are overweight.  I am not sure about that, Gary.  A study (there is a study of everything, it seems, even a study of why there are so many studies), showed that mothers of fat children did not see them as overweight.

Marianna has a Zumba exercise dance studio in Quepos, where she said obesity is disturbingly common. She is doing her best to get some of the dangerously overweight young people to attend.  Don’t quit, Marianna.  You are fighting for their lives.

Not long ago a medical researcher was doing some studies on diabetes and in looking at the brain saw something that made her declare that Alzheimer’s was “diabetes of the brain.”  I have not heard that statement referred to again.

But just recently the U. S. government appropriated millions for research in Alzheimer’s, and among the tests on humans they are using an insulin nose spray.  So someone else is making the possible connection.

Just about every one of us, except a fortunate few, has a sweet tooth. Years ago a guest anthropologist to one of my classes was lecturing on what he said was a devastating epidemic of addiction in his country, India. When he said it was to sugar and sweets, the class had to control its laughter because we expected him to say hashish.

As we grow older, our taste buds are not as acute as they once were, and chewing, for many is more difficult.  As a result, sweets are even more desirable and become a larger part of the diet as we age. This is conjecture from only anecdotal information, but I think there will be found to be a connection between the consumption of sugar and Alzheimer’s.  The brain needs sugar, but too much overwhelms the insulin the body can produce to control it.

Sugar is actually a greater culprit than fat.

Since 1980 worldwide, diabetes in adults – mainly type 2 –has more than doubled. This is according to a study done by International researchers, according to Reuters and Lancet magazines. Industrialized countries have the highest increase but economically emerging countries, are catching up. In some countries, like the United States and Costa Rica, it has grown more than 60 percent. The increase has been greater among women, except in France where it has decreased over 7 percent. In the U.S. southern women already have a lower life expectancy than their mothers. This statistic is going to spread.

These numbers are important not only for the pain and suffering and health cost diabetes represents for countries, but it can affect a country’s prosperity.

Somewhere I read that health improvement comes before a country’s economic success, but I cannot find that source. I think it was Hans Rosling, the Swedish sword-swallowing professor of global health, who said this. He is the man who has made global statistics fun. But it does make sense. A population of sick people cannot be as productive, employable as a healthy population, therefore as upwardly mobile as a healthy population.

All of this information may be more than you wanted to know, but it has helped me. Actually, it has frightened me. I am going to have to get my tush off this chair in front of my computer more often and exercise more, and I have already cut down on my sugar intake, substituting cabbage leaves for Toll House cookies as a snack. (I really like cabbage leaves.)

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