When fructose metabolism occurs due to excess sugar consumption, the brain essentially goes into overdrive. The process of neural glycolysis uses up necessary cerebral energy, making brain neurons less functional or viable over time, study author Richard Johnson, M.D., explains in a news release.
“In essence, we propose that Alzheimer’s disease is a modern disease driven by changes in dietary lifestyle in which fructose can disrupt cerebral metabolism and neuronal function,” his study states.
The research suggests excess consumption of fructose can increase fructose metabolism in the brain. The process ultimately takes energy away from other, more necessary, brain functions. Over time, this may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease—though more research needs to be done to confirm the theory.
“By outlining consistent evidence, we’re hoping to inspire researchers to continue exploring the relationship between fructose in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease,” Johnson says. “New treatments aimed at inhibiting intracerebral fructose metabolism could provide a novel way to prevent and treat this disease.”
In the meantime? Cutting back on sugar (sorry, sweet-tooths) may be one way to stave off these unwanted neurodegenerative effects. Other lifestyle habits, like regular exercise, staying positive, and even drinking coffee can also help support the brain.