Friday, October 12, 2012

Your Brain on Fructose

How much fructose is in your diet? A new UCLA rat study, reported in the Journal of Physiology, may be the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain and hampers memory and learning. Two groups of rats were first taught to run a maze that had many holes but only one exit. Both groups were then fed a typical rat diet with the addition of fructose solution as drinking water. The second group was also given omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is essential for synaptic function. Six weeks later cells in the brains of rats who had not received omega-3 fatty acids 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 rats had difficulty negotiating the maze and showed signs of insulin resistance. Typical Western diets include significant amounts of cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener. (Fructose in fruits appears to be less impactful because fruits also contain important antioxidants).  You may want to reduce your fructose intake and be sure to include omega-3s in your diet when you do want a high-fructose item.

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