Is your food hurting or helping your brain?
Sugar: it’s common knowledge that consuming too much sugar affects your weight, risk for developing diabetes, energy levels and can cause other health issues. We all need to watch our sugar intake (and knowing our sugar numbers helps!)
This is especially important now, as new research from UCLA shows that too much of the sugar known as high fructose corn syrup can impact your ability to think! The study shows that consuming high fructose corn syrup affects memory and actually slows down learning.
UCLA professor of neurosurgery, Fernando Gomez-Pinilla conducted the study on the effects of high-fructose corn syrup on basic cognitive abilities (such as memory and problem-solving) in rats. They gave one group of rats a diet high in high-fructose corn syrup and another group a diet high in omega-3. We recommend you read all about the details!
The rats on the high-fructose corn syrup diet had a much harder time recalling a maze they had seen previously, and took more time completing the maze compared to the group of rats given the omega-3 diet.
The rats showed that diets high in sugar can result in neurological dysfunctions and lack of memory.
Since the researchers used a group of rats that were fed a diet high in omega-3’s, they were also able to see the effect that these healthy substances had on the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be able to counteract insulin resistance and help maintain brain development. Gomez-Pinilla suggests that the presence of omega 3 fatty acids alleviates the negative effects that the fructose had on the receptors.
How does this relate to us? The average American consumes more than 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup each year. Now research suggests this massive ingestion is damaging the brain slowly over time.
The good news? A diet rich in omega-3’s can help!
Now what? Well, now we can see that diet effects not just your body, but also your brain. Time to eat carefully for your mental as well as your physical health!
Start by incorporating more omega-3 rich foods in your diet and decreasing your intake of high-fructose corn syrup. Foods that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish & seafood, walnuts, flax seeds, or soybeans. Avoid processed foods with high-fructose corn syrup listed in the ingredients. This can be pretty hard to follow since a lot of manufacturers are putting corn syrup in all sorts of products, including breads and crackers and other non-sweet foods. Read labels carefully!
So not only for energy and physical health, but also for your mental health, make sure you consider carefully what you consume. It’s the fuel for your body, and just like the wrong gasoline can mess up your car, the wrong fuel for your body can do damage too!
What are your favorite sources of Omega-3s? We love avocado in salads and guacamole!