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A study shows that consuming too much sugar can eat away your memory

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 17th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

On Tuesday, U.S. scientists published a study showing how a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup weakened lab rats' memories. Meaning what? Well, it means that eating too much sugar can actually make you dumb.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers at UCLA fed two groups of rats a drink containing high-fructose corn syrup as their drinking water for six weeks. One of the groups was given omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and the other was not.

Before given the sugar drinks, the rats were trained for five days in a maze. After the six weeks, the rats were put back in the maze to see how they did.

"The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier."

Also, the rats, which were not fed DHA supplements, developed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone which controls blood sugar and brain function. Eating too much fructose can interfere with insulin's ability on how cells use and store sugar, which generates thoughts and emotions.

"Because insulin can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the hormone may signal neurons to trigger reactions that disrupt learning and cause memory loss," Gomez-Pinilla said. "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. Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new."

The average American citizen consumes more than 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup annually. The corn syrup is found in soda, applesauce, baby food, condiments, and other common snacks.

The study provides evidence that eating too much sugar can affect the body and mind in a negative way.

"Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think," said Gomez-Pinilla. "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."

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