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High-Fructose Corn Syrup Makes You Stupid

Update Date: May 16, 2012 02:28 PM EDT

For all those students with the habit of nibbling at sweets and sodas while preparing for their exams, be weary. A new study suggests that a high fructose diet for as little as six weeks may make you stupid.

The study conducted on rats shows that a diet high on fructose slows down the functioning of the brain, in the bargain hampering memory and learning. However, consumption of omega 3 fatty acids can help minimizing this damage. 

"Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. "Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage."

Previous studies have revealed how sugar affects the body causing obesity and diabetes. This study sheds light on how sugar affects the working of the brain as well. "We're not talking about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants," explained Gomez-Pinilla, who is also a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute and Brain Injury Research Center. "We're concerned about high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative."

The rats were first trained to navigate through a small maze built specifically for this study. Once they were trained, they were kept on a high fructose diet. With each passing day, it was observed that these rats found it more difficult to find their way through the maze. Researches stated that the high level of sugar was hurting their brain cells.

"Insulin is important in the body for controlling blood sugar, but it may play a different role in the brain, where insulin appears to disturb memory and learning," Gomez-Pinilla said. "Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new."

The study was published in the May 15th edition of Journal of Physiology. 

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