Madison Ruppert, Contributor
New research out of the University of California, Los Angeles has found that aside from the health risks already associated with high-fructose corn syrup, long-term diets heavy in the sugary substance could actually result in a decline in memory and learning ability.
Thankfully, this study wasn’t purely bad news, as it revealed that this can actually be counteracted by eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There are many ways to introduce higher levels of these crucial fatty acids into one’s diet, including relatively inexpensive supplements, flaxseed (which is available in ground, milled and/or in oil form) delicious nuts (the most omega-3 rich being walnuts), salmon and many other delicious foods.
Considering the dangers associated with genetically modified foods, which, like high-fructose corn syrup, are present in many mass-produced processed foods, never before have we had more reasons to seek out healthier alternatives.
The research – published in the Journal of Physiology – was conducted on rats, a common subject for analog studies, especially dealing with the brain since the brain chemistry of rats is similar to that of humans.
The study focused not on naturally occurring fructose, but instead on high-fructose corn syrup, a substance which is a whopping six times sweeter than cane sugar and commonly used in a wide variety of processed foods and soft drinks.
The experiment included two groups of rats: one which was fed a sugary diet and one which was fed a healthy diet. Both groups were fed the diet for six weeks.
The researchers tested the learning and memory capabilities of the rats by putting them in a maze which included landmarks designed to assist them in learning and memorizing how to navigate it.
After six weeks, they re-tested the rats’ ability to run through the maze once again.
UCLA Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, co-author of the study, stated that the rats that were fed the sugary diet showed a marked decline in their speed as well as a noticeable cognitive decline.
“Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information,” said Professor Gomez-Pinilla.
“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” Professor Gomez-Pinilla said, according to the Daily Mail. “Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”
These findings are especially noteworthy since previous research has only been able to link high-fructose corn syrup to health issues including obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and more.
This is the first study investigating the repercussions of a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup on the brain.
Due to the low costs associated with high-fructose corn syrup, it has become an ubiquitous ingredient in our modern world of heavily processed foods produced on a previously unimaginable scale.
If one takes the time to read the ingredients on the foods and drinks they commonly consume, one might be quite shocked to see how often they put the corn-derivative into their body.
“We’re not talking about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants,” said Professor Gomez-Pinilla, in order to clarify the important difference between the types of sugars.
“We’re concerned about high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative,” he added.
Gomez-Pinilla and the other co-author of the study, Rahul Agrawal, said that the sugary diet actually changed the brains of the rats in the experimental group.
“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,” Professor Gomez-Pinilla said.
After closely inspecting the brain tissue of the rats, they discovered that the insulin present had likely lost a great deal of its power to control brain cells.
The researchers think that eating a diet heavy in high-fructose corn syrup could actually hinder the ability of insulin to regulate how cells store and use sugar, thus impacting the brain’s ability to process thoughts, emotions as well as its learning and memory-storage capabilities.
Thankfully, they said that working foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids into one’s diet could actually help protect the brain from the potentially disastrous effects of a long-term diet consisting of a great deal of high-fructose corn syrup.
“It’s like saving money in the bank. You want to build a reserve for your brain to tap when it requires extra fuel to fight off future diseases,” Professor Gomez-Pinilla said.
The great thing is that you won’t have to eat foods tasting like cardboard to get your omega-3 fatty acids. Indeed, many delicious nuts and fish are quite rich in the crucial substance.
To get started, you can invest in some quality supplements, while making a conscious effort to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup from your own and your family’s diets wherever possible.
Once you know what foods you can consume in order to get your omega-3 fatty acids, it is quite easy to significantly increase your intake in order to protect your health.
Whatever you do, don’t delay, because if this research is correct, you could actually be significantly holding back your brain’s power, not to mention putting yourself at much greater risk for a wide variety of other health problems.
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This article first appeared at End the Lie.