Is There a Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is there a connection between sugar and Alzheimer’s disease? Emerging evidence suggests that managing sugar intake earlier in life might help reduce your risk. Let’s delve into this sweet and serious topic.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition that impairs cognitive function, memory, and daily life activities. While it’s commonly associated with older age, the biological markers of Alzheimer’s can appear in your 30s.

Sugar’s Surprising Role

Researchers have unearthed a concerning link between sugar consumption and Alzheimer’s. Notably, this association extends to elevated blood sugar levels seen in diabetes.

Sugar and Alzheimer’s Risk

Consuming excessive sugar can lead to inflammation, a known contributor to various chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s. Recent studies are bolstering this connection.

In 2022, a study of 37,689 participants highlighted the link between sugar intake, particularly lactose found in dairy, and Alzheimer’s risk, especially in women. High blood sugar due to diabetes is also a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s, promoting the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain.

Additionally, research from 2022 indicates that the interplay between Alzheimer’s, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol can start as early as age 35. Managing these factors in midlife may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Even over a short period, as little as one year, higher blood sugar levels were shown to affect Alzheimer’s risk in a smaller study of cognitively healthy individuals.

In 2017, another study suggested a link between sugary beverages and markers for Alzheimer’s. It’s worth noting that the participants were primarily white, so broader applications require further research.

Sugar’s Impact on Alzheimer’s Symptoms

For individuals with Alzheimer’s, especially those with diabetes, excess sugar consumption can expedite the onset of symptoms. Alzheimer’s symptoms include memory issues, difficulty with problem-solving, mood changes, poor hygiene, and social withdrawal. However, in some cases, small amounts of sugar may be beneficial for those with late-stage Alzheimer’s, where appetite loss can compromise nutritional intake.

Reducing Sugar Intake

If you aim to reduce your sugar intake, start with minimizing or eliminating sugary beverages, as research has directly linked these to an increased Alzheimer’s risk. Other strategies include cutting back on table sugar and sweeteners, gradually reducing sugar amounts in recipes, and choosing products with less added sugar.

Fresh, dried, or frozen fruits are preferable over those in syrup, and opting for healthier sweeteners like spices and extracts can make a significant difference.


  • Can people with dementia eat sugar? While limiting sugar is generally beneficial for health, moderate sugar consumption can aid those with advanced Alzheimer’s by making food more appealing.
  • Why do people with Alzheimer’s crave sweets? Loss of taste and smell can reduce food’s appeal, causing cravings for sweet and intense flavors. Anxiety, depression, and certain medications may also lead to sugar cravings.
  • Can other dietary changes reduce my risk of Alzheimer’s? Research indicates that diets like the Mediterranean and MIND diets may positively affect brain health. However, the effectiveness of supplements and individual foods in dementia prevention is still uncertain.


The evidence is mounting: excessive sugar consumption, as well as high blood sugar levels, may increase your vulnerability to Alzheimer’s disease. To reduce this risk, consider moderating your sugar intake and paying attention to overall health, especially in midlife. Balancing your diet could be a sweet approach to safeguarding your cognitive well-being.

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