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A new study indicates that consuming large quantities of high fructose corn syrup (found in soda, condiments, applesauce and many processed snacks) can negatively impact learning and memory.
This study involved lab rats but researchers speculate that the same may be true for humans.
Neuropsychologists have long known that blood sugar levels can impact cognitive functioning and that diabetes can have long term consequences for memory and other cognitive abilities.
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles UCLA fed two groups of rats a solution containing high-fructose corn syrup — a common ingredient in processed foods — as drinking water for six weeks.
One group of rats was supplemented with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid DHA, while the other group was not.
Before the sugar drinks began, the rats were enrolled in a five-day training session in a complicated maze. After six weeks on the sweet solution, the rats were then placed back in the maze to see how they fared.
“The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats ability to think clearly and recall the route theyd learned six weeks earlier.”
A closer look at the rat brains revealed that those who were not fed DHA supplements had also developed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar and regulates brain function.
In other words, eating too much fructose could interfere with insulins ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar, which is necessary for processing thoughts and emotions.
“Insulin is important in the body for controlling blood sugar, but it may play a different role in the brain, where insulin appears to disturb memory and learning,” Gomez-Pinilla said.
“Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new.”
The average American consumes more than 40 pounds 18 kilograms of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
“Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brains ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”
The study appeared in the Journal of Physiology.
via Sugar can make you dumb, US scientists warn – Yahoo! News. (Originally found at http://news.yahoo.com/sugar-dumb-us-scientists-warn-190918006.html. Article is no longer live.)