Our nation’s obsession with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has caued epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and countless other diseases. So if HFCS is bad for your body, one can only imagine what it does to your brain.
Well, we no longer have to wonder. A study conducted at UCLA (Agrawal, et al.) and published in the Journal of Physiology suggests that a high HFCS diet can actually make you dumber. As it turns out, sugar block the ability of the hormone insulin to regulate how cells use and story sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions. The scientists studied two groups of rats that consumed a fructose solution as drinking water for six weeks. The second group also received omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is the primary essentialfatty acid in the human brain. It is crucial for synaptic function and affects numerous functions including learning and memory.
The rats were fed a standard diet and trained on a maze twice daily for five days before starting the experimental diet. The researchers tested how well the rats were able to navigate the maze, which contained numerous holes but only one exit. Placed within the maze were visual landmarks 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 results were surprising:
The group that received DHA omega-3s navigated the maze much faster than the group that did not receive omega 3s.
The DHA-deprived rats were slower and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. These animals also developed signs of resistance to insulin, in addition to be a primary regulator of blood sugar, also plays a key role in memory and learning.
So what does that tell you? Be good to your body and lay off the high fructose corn syrup. And don’t forget to take your essential fatty acids!