Seven Key Insights from the Integrative Practitioner Digital Summit on Aging and Longevity

1. High Sugar Intake Can Lead to Neurodegenerative Disorders

Excessive sugar is a precursor for an inflammatory process that is the root of all modern degenerative conditions, according to Christopher Bump, DC, MS, IFMCP, CNS, DABCN, who presented a session, “Fructose, Glucose, Sugar, and Your Brain Is a Very Sticky Matter: How Advanced Glycation End-products Lead to Alzheimer’s, Cognitive Decline and Neuroinflammation”.

A high-sugar diet can result in metabolic syndrome, defined by several parameters and conditions such as central obesity, hypertension, elevated lipids, and elevated glucose, said Bump, a functional medicine chiropractor and clinical nutritionist in Vernon, N.J. These conditions, he said, are predeterminants or antecedents for the development of chronic degenerative conditions.

One of the fundamental causes of these neurodegenerative diseases associated with metabolic syndromes, explained Bump, is advanced glycation end-products (AGES). A consequence of excessive sugar consumption, AGES are compounds formed when sucrose is bound to proteins, lipids, or nucleic acids without the help of enzymes.

“I would say that it is the AGES that lead to the primary degenerative conditions associated with diabetes, whether it's Alzheimer's or arthritis, [or] neurological irritations,” said Bump.

According to Bump, when AGEs accumulate in high levels, they increase vascular tissue and tissue stiffening by the cross-linking of elastin and collagen, proteins used to make connective tissue. In addition, AGEs are known to stimulate inflammation and oxidative stress through the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE). With more AGES, Bump said, comes a higher risk of several conditions.

“These deleterious physiological changes from oxidative stress to post protein crosslinking, to increased inflammation, and beta amyloid formation, result in conditions such as connective tissue disease, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, and diabetes,” said Bump. “All these conditions also precede the interruption of function of the central nervous system and hence cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative conditions.”

To test for AGES, Bump suggested testing patients for fasting glucose, fasting insulin, hemoglobin A1C, fructosamine, triglycerides, and cholesterol.