Alzheimer’s disease linked to high blood sugar; green tea slows its progression

New findings from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and University of Missouri may point to a way in which tea may benefit people at risk of Alzheimer’s.

The Washington University study, which appeared in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, focused on the presence of amyloid beta (A-beta), a substance that is responsible for some of the early brain changes and development of brain plaque characteristic of Alzheimer’s. Scientists found that in mice the amount of the A-beta was affected by high blood glucose levels.

The researchers began with a group of mice with no brain plaque present. They increased blood glucose levels by 100% and the amount of A-beta in these mice rose by 20%. For mice who were older and already had some plaque in their brains, the effect was more dramatic. There was a 40% increase.

The study suggests an important connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Concurrently, University of Missouri researchers were examining how the antioxidant EGCG, extracted from green tea, could help reduce these amyloid plaques. Cognitive tests were conducted on the mice before and after the consumption of EGCG added to their water and the opportunity to run in an exercise wheel. Tests included a maze and a nest construction using provided material. Information retention and mental acuity were significantly improved after the dosing of green tea extract and exercises and, in addition, A-beta levels dropped. The study appeared in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and was titled “Beneficial Effects of Dietary EGCG and Voluntary Exercise on Behavior in an Alzheimer’s Disease Mouse Model.”

How are these two studies connected? Given that previous studies have found that tea may be able to prevent some carbohydrates from converting to glucose, it will be interesting to see if this reduction of glucose is involved with the potentially protective effect against Alzheimer’s found by the University of Missouri.

SOURCE: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Washington University in St. Louis