My family had the most shocking discovery about sugar recently.
During the Christmas holiday, I brought my grandma down for a walk and to reward her for exercising.. i gave her some Garrett popcorn that I got for Christmas. We don’t really have much sweets at home so this was a treat for her.
I thought that it was just a once off treat and that was the end of it. The next day, I realised that the whole bag of popcorn had gone missing and my grandma ate all of it.
The Immediate Effect of Sugar on the Brain
After the bag of popcorn, my grandma started acting up. She showed serious signs of short term memory loss such as forgetting that she called my grandaunt just an hour ago. She also started to get angry and suspicious over items that got missing. She misplaces her belongings sometimes, and gets upset over it.
There has been suspicions of the similarities between dementia and diabetes for some time.
According to Dr Clare Walton at the Alzheimer’s Society, research suggests that as changes in the pathways that transport and use glucose occur, Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
Keeping the Situation under Control
My grandma is not diagnosed with dementia. We noticed early warning signs last year (Christmas period too) and my mother started her on natural remedies and early intervention. We didn’t want to get her diagnosed because the diagnosis did not help my grandfather who had dementia. Medication suppressed his aggression but the side effect was that it caused us to lose him completely.
We’ve seen significant improvements in my grandma ever since we made a committed effort to fight dementia. Her memory is much better and she is no longer aggressive or suspicious.
So, it was quite disturbing for us to suddenly see a drastic change in her. It happened almost immediately after the sugar incident.
Identifying the Cause
We only suspected that sugar was the culprit after realising that it was the ONLY change in her routine.
It then occurred to us that it could be the popcorn she ate. We went online to research and came across articles on how sugar may speed up dementia. We also read that researchers suspect dementia may be correlated with diabetes.
We can’t be sure that sugar is 100% responsible.
But, it was really the only change in her diet/routine.
It was a wake-up call for us because we saw the effect immediately. It made me question the kinds of food that we put in our bodies.
The Journal of the American Heart Association claims that drinking at least one artificially sweetened beverage daily was associated with almost three times the risk of developing stroke or dementia compared to those who drank these beverages less than once a week.
How’s my grandma now?
The sugar effect wore off after two days. Thankfully.. So, she’s back to normal now. But, we constantly need to watch her for changes in her behaviour and finding ways to engage her so that she continues to lead an active and social life.
What are we going to about this lesson?
1.Tell the world about the horrors of sugar
I shared in our group of caregivers about this episode and I believe it struck a chord in some of them. One mentioned that their loved ones really love sugar. I think it’s no surprise as we’ve all familiar with the term, Sugar Addiction . The more sugar you consume, the more you crave.
2. Hide the sugar from my grandma
This is quite easy because we don’t have much sugar lying around. My mother is somewhat of a health freak.
3. Cut sugar for the year
It’s almost impossible to cut sugar out completely & it’s unlikely to be healthy to do so. Seeing that fruits which contain sugar also give us great amounts of vitamins.
But, i will try to make small sustainable changes to my lifestyle. Cutting sugar in the form of sweets, chocolates, biscuits, drinks and also, carbohydrates such as bread, rice and noodles.
So, I guess I’m singing Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee’s tune now. Haha
Are you interested in the simple interventions that we tried out to improve my grandma’s situation? I work on creating games for caregivers to better engage loved ones with dementia. Download FREE activities for seniors here: http://bit.ly/2jzgy5V