Different studies have assessed the effects of fructose on the growth of cancer cells, diabetes risk, liver function, and weight. Research on how fructose affects the brain function has been limited so far. UCLA researchers recently reported that fructose contributes to the list of ills by ‘making us dumb’. The good news is that eating a diet rich in omega-3s will smarten you back up.
The research team made rats spend several days learning how to navigate a maze. Some rats were given a fructose solution instead of water while others ate a diet rich in omega-3 acids. In 6 weeks, the rats were put back into the maze to see how well they were able to recall it. Those that ate diets rich in omega-3s were better at completing the maze than the rats that didn’t. Speaking of cognitive capabilities, those that were given a fructose solution fared the worst. Interestingly, the brain cells of these rats had trouble ‘talking’ to one another, disrupting the rats’ ability to recall the route and think clearly.
Naturally occurring fructose, contained in fruits, does not have the same effect on cognitive abilities. The researchers are mainly concerned about the effect of high-fructose corn syrup, added to a variety of products as a preservative or sweetener. One 20-ounce tea, sports drink, or HFCS sweetened soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar. Many teenagers have two or more drinks a day. When sweetened drinks contain such amounts of sugar, we can say that we are conducting an uncontrolled experiment on humankind. Hunter-gatherers, for example, had the equivalent of 20 teaspoons a year, not 34 spoons a day. The corn industry claims that sugar is sugar, but quantity certainly matters. Besides, the consumption of foods that contain HFCS results in metabolic disturbances that lead to dementia, cancer, heart disease, weight gain, and diabetes.