High-Fructose Diet Makes You Stupid

Binging on sweets is bad for the waistline—and the brain.
Need another reason not to reach for the soda can? It will make you stupid. Photo: Getty Images.
May 18, 2012
Exec. Prod. of Franchises & Series. He previously reported for HuffPost, L.A. Daily Journal, and Biloxi Sun-Herald.

In case the threat of obesity, diabetes and a fatty liver weren't enough to convince you to avoid a soda- and sugar-stuffed diet, researchers have come up with another reason you should lay off the sweets:

Fructose will make you stupid. 

A new study in which rats were fed a steady diet of fructose-laced water shows that the sweetener slows the brain and hampers memory. According to UCLA's experts:

"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."

The most common sources of fructose in the Western diet are cane sugar—sucrose—and high-fructose corn syrup, a common additive used by the food industry.

The USDA reports that the average American consumes 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year. Soda, condiments, baby food, and applesauce are the most common culprits. 

Still unwilling to kick the sweets addiction? The UCLA team recommends that you complement that soda binge with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which helps protect the brain cells that promote memory and learning. Good sources of omega-3s and DHA include salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds. 

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