You may or may not be aware of an inexpensive and highly used sweetener that is six times sweeter than cane sugar and commonly added to most processed foods, from ketchup and cereals to crackers and salad dressings. It also sweetens just about all (regular) soda drinks. If you are checking the ingredients in your groceries while you shop, you will have seen High Fructose Corn Syrup pop up over and over again.There is mixed evidence so far about the difference in HFCS and any other form of sugar.Yet, after HFCS began to be widely introduced into the food supply 30-odd years ago, obesity and diabetes rates skyrocketed.
Here is a new study from UCLA which suggests that it might also sabotage learning and memory and that bingeing on treats containing HFCS for as little as six weeks could make you…well, stupid. However, the good news is that eating nuts and fish such as salmon can counteract this disruption.
The researchers were studying the impact of high-fructose corn syrup on rats, who have similar brain chemistry to humans.
They studied two groups of rats that each consumed a fructose solution as drinking water for six weeks.
The second group also received omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). We need DHA for healthy brain function.
The animals were trained on a maze twice daily for five days before starting the experimental diet. The UCLA team tested how well the rats were able to navigate the maze, which contained numerous holes but only one exit. The scientists placed visual landmarks in the maze to help the rats learn and remember the way.
Six weeks later, the researchers tested the rats’ ability to recall the route and escape the maze.
The group of rats who received the fatty acids navigated the maze much faster than those given the fructose. What is more the animals not given the omega-3 saw a decline in synaptic activity in their brains.
The researchers concluded that ‘Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier.’
A closer look at the rats’ brain tissue suggested that insulin had lost much of its power to influence the brain cells.
The authors suspect that eating too much fructose could block insulin’s ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions.
However, their study also suggests that eating foods rich in omega-3 regularly could protect the brain from the effects of fructose.
by M. Wally
Age is a state of mind. Aging is a treatable condition.
Photo: Courtesy of straightchiro.com