The Common Food Ingredient That's Making You Stupid
By: Leah Zerbe (sent by Invictus) on: 27.05.2012 [16:02 ] (716 reads)
Foods that appear to be nutritious could actually be destroying your brainpower. The culprit? A common ingredient slipped into many "healthy" foods, including baby food, applesauce, and oatmeal, a breakfast favorite. Researchers at UCLA found that ingesting foods and drinks containing the ingredient high-fructose corn syrup for just six weeks caused troubling changes in brain function. "Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think," says Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor of neurosurgery and integrative biology and physiology at UCLA. "Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information."
While high-fructose corn syrup is rampant in soda and candy products, it also hides out in some seemingly innocuous items like bread, juices, ketchup, and instant oatmeal. (Previous studies have found high-fructose corn syrup is sometimes contaminated with mercury.) Most often associated with obesity and diabetes, this latest study, appearing in the Journal of Physiology, shows this industrial food ingredient can harm the brain, too.
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This could be leading to an all-out American brain drain, given that the average citizen downs 40 pounds of the ingredient every year.
To find out how high-fructose corn syrup affects brain function, researchers studied two groups of rats: One group downed high-fructose corn syrup in water for six weeks; another dined on high-fructose corn syrup but also received doses of brain-protecting omega-3 fatty acids.
Before their high-fructose corn syrup diet began, the rats were all trained to navigate a maze. After eating the sweetener for six weeks, researchers put the rats to the maze test again. The animals that didn't receive the omega-3 brain protection were slower and experienced problems with brain signaling, which disrupts critical skills like memory and thinking. Researchers also witnessed signs of insulin resistance in the group without omega-3s; this could hamper normal energy processing, which could impact thoughts, emotions, memory, and learning, according to Gomez-Pinilla. "Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body," he adds. "This is something new."
3 Rules for Avoiding a High-Fructose Corn Syrup-Derived Brain Drain