Sugar is hardly a “smart” food that can enhance your brainpower a new study suggests. Just the opposite; it can cause metabolic dysfunction that impairs cognitive ability.
In the study, UCLA researchers trained two groups of lab rats to navigate a complicated maze. Then they fed the two groups high-fructose corn syrup mixed with water for six weeks. One of the rodent groups, however, received Omega-3 and DHA supplements.
The rats were then plunked down into the maze again, and it turned out that the non-supplemented group apparently got lost trying to find the proper pathway.
Study author Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a neurosurgeon, told the AFP news agency that “The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity…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.”
The non-supplemented rodents also developed an insulin resistance, which compounded the problem: “Because insulin can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the hormone may signal neurons to trigger reactions that disrupt learning and cause memory loss.”
Assuming the study can be extrapolated to humans, this means sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup–a common sweetener in many processed foods–can erode thinking ability and retention.
Dr. Gomez-Pinilla indicated that the study, which was published in the Journal of Physiology, broke new ground in establishing that high-fructose consumption can undermine brain function as well as the body.
One of the key points of the study is that …
These findings expand the concept of metabolic syndrome affecting the brain and provide the mechanistic evidence of how dietary habits can interact to regulate brain functions, which can further alter lifelong susceptibility to the metabolic disorders.
The doctor added, however, that Omega-3 fatty acids can help counteract the harm caused by an unhealthy diet.
The average American is said to digest an incredible 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup every year. It is found in breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups, and condiments among other products. High-fructose corn syrup is said to contribute to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.