Sugar: Bad For The Brain As Well As The Body

Ever since you were a child, you’ve probably been told by your mother that sugar is bad for you. She had science on her side as a diet rich in sugar can lead to multiple health problems. Now research shows that it might affect how you think as well.

In recent study researchers at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine used rats to explore how a high-fructose diet can affect the brains basic cognitive abilities. Professor of neurosurgery, Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said, “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.” But there is some good news. During the study, the researchers found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids could help to diminish the damage associated with sugar.

Gomez-Pinilla and his colleague, Rahul Agrawal, ran a simple experiment on rats. They first trained a group of rats to run a maze before splitting them off into two groups for six weeks. One group of rats was fed a high-fructose corn syrup solution, a common sweetener used in America, while the other was also given the solution along with flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two omega-3 fatty acid sources. After the six week period was up, they had the rats run the maze again and found the first group were slower in problem-solving the maze whilst the second group achieved much better results.

With these results, Gomez-Pinilla has theorised that the high levels of sugar are bad for the brain much the same way that it’s bad for the body: the high levels of fructose disrupts regular insulin production and the body’s blood sugar levels are not regulated correctly. Regular blood sugar levels are essential for brain functions like recalling and problem-solving.

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