Bad news sugar lovers: a diet high in fructose won’t just make you fat, it may also make you stupid, according to research out of California.

A steady high-fructose diet disrupts the brain’s cognitive abilities, leading to poor learning and memory retention, says a study by Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a neurosurgery professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Rahul Agrawal, a visiting UCLA postdoctoral fellow from India.

“This type of diet. . . (affects) the transmission of information across cells. . . learning and memory and practically any type of brain function depends very much on how transmission is transported across cells,” Gomez-Pinilla said in an interview with the Star.

Health concerns

Their study, published in the May 15 edition of the Journal of Physiology, looked at high sugar consumption, focusing less on naturally occurring fructose in fruits and more on the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup.

Research has already proven a high-fructose diet leads to a slew of health concerns, including obesity, diabetes and fatty liver.

The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of sweeteners.

High-fructose corn syrup, which acts as a preservative and sweetener, is found in a variety of processed foods, from soft drinks and baby food to salad dressings and condiments.

The average American consumes approximately 21 kilograms of cane sugar and 16 kilograms of high-fructose corn syrup annually, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Role of fatty acids

Gomez-Pinilla and Agrawal studied two groups of rats, both of which drank a fructose solution in their drinking water for six weeks. One of the groups also consumed omega-3 fatty acids, from flaxseed oil and a DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) capsule. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to guard against heat disease, high cholesterol and mental conditions such as bipolar disorder and depression, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Both rat groups were trained on a maze for five days before starting their new diet. After six weeks, Gomez-Pinilla and Agrawal retested the rats on the maze to monitor brain function and memory retention, noting the rats that consumed the fructose solution without the omega-3 fatty acids had problems with how they were able to think and recall routes in the maze.

Those rats also showed a resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates sugar levels in the body.

“Rats fed on a (omega-3 fatty acids) deficient diet showed memory deficits in a Barnes maze, which were further exacerbated by fructose take,” the authors write.

They found that a rich diet of omega-3 fatty acids counteracted the negative affects of fructose.

Implications for humans

In terms of humans, Gomez-Pinilla predicts such changes in the brain to happen within six months to a year.

“The implication(s) here (are) the high consumption and the chronic consumption for man,” Gomez-Pinilla said, adding research needs to be done on the specific affects on humans.

“We don’t know yet how long (the damage) can last.”

The war on unhealthy food choices is a growing. In September, New York City announced it would ban sugar-filled drinks larger than 16-ounces from concession and fast-food stands, restaurants and movie theatres.

In Canada, a push on healthy eating is on the rise as the country grapples with the fact that 31.5 per cent of Canadian children aged 5 to 17 are either overweight or obese, according to a Statistics Canada report released in September.

“Diabetes is very prevalent in western society. It’s known already there is an (epidemic) of diabetes, which is highly related to a consumption of foods high in sugar,” Gomez-Pinilla said.

Gomez-Pinilla advocates a nutrient-rich diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids and a proper mix of healthy choices to offset the dangers of fructose.

Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids include flax-seed oil, some types of fish, such as salmon, and nuts.



NEW series with Dr. Lustig “The Skinny on Obesity” Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [7/2009] [Health and Medicine] [Show ID: 16717]

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Documentary about Big Sugar, from it’s early days with ties to slavery to modern times with it’s detrimental effects on the everglades and political ties. This is both part 1 and part 2. Written & Directed by: Brian McKenna. Produced by: Galafilm in 2005.

As good as this is, it barely touches on the negative effects it has on Florida residents, poisoning the water supply, endangering animals and plant species etc…