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TAG | Type 2 Diabetes

It is no secret that sugar is unhealthy. From high blood sugar to diabetes and heart disease, a diet high in sugar has far-reaching effects. But did you know that sugar is also bad for your brain? A recent study published in the Journal of Physiology found an interesting connection between a diet low in omega-3s and high in the sugar fructose, and poor memory and brain function. The researchers stated, “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

In the animal study, one group was fed a diet low in omega-3 fatty acids, and another group was fed a diet high in omega-3s from flaxseed and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The omega-3 deficient animals were found to have poor memory function when compared to those fed a diet rich in omega-3s. The negative effects of a low omega-3 diet were exacerbated when high amounts of fructose were added to the diet. In the group receiving sufficient omega-3s, however, a high fructose diet did not have the same negative effects on memory and neuron function, suggesting that omega-3s have a protective effect against the brain dysfunction caused by a high fructose diet.

It is well known that a high sugar diet increases blood sugar and insulin resistance in the bloodstream. This is the hallmark of the metabolic syndrome, an increasingly common condition that precedes type 2 diabetes. This study suggests that not only can a high sugar diet have effects in the bloodstream, but that it can also have similar effects in the brain. The study found disrupted insulin receptor signaling in the hippocampus, an area of the brain associated with memory function. Insulin and fructose are both known to cross the blood-brain barrier, where they can interrupt neuron function.

The findings of this study are not surprising. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is also known as type 3 diabetes. The fact is, the amount of sugar—and even carbohydrates, for that matter—in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is alarmingly high. ReNew Life founder Brenda Watson will be debuting a new PBS show in the fall on this very topic. The show, called The Heart of Perfect Health will air nationwide in November. Stay tuned to our blog for more information on show times.

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Belly fat is usually detectible—people generally have a good idea if they tend to accumulate fat in their midsection, as opposed to their hips and bottom. But how do you know if your liver is fat? Well, abdominal fat and liver fat often go hand in hand. In fact, fat from the liver can be sent to the belly, and vice versa. Often, an underlying feature of both of these is inflammation, which may come from the gut. Nutrients and other substances—including fat, toxins and inflammatory compounds—are absorbed from the small intestine and travel straight to the liver via the portal vein.

A recent study found that obese individuals with high amounts of abdominal fat and liver fat are at increased risk for heart disease. The researchers found that liver fat is strongly associated with increased secretion of very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), which contain the highest amounts of triglycerides, known to increase heart disease risk.

It has long been known that abdominal fat can be dangerous. The increasing knowledge about the dangers of liver fat adds to the story, as these two go hand in hand, each setting the body up to be more susceptible to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Together, belly and liver fat mean trouble.

Both liver and abdominal fat can be reduced with exercise and weight loss. These steps, in addition to addressing any underlying gut dysfunction that may be contributing inflammation to the liver, can help reverse these metabolic precursors to heart disease. Gut imbalance may be addressed by taking probiotics, the beneficial bacteria naturally found in the gut.

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