The Food That Slows Down The Brain

The effects can be counteracted with the right nutrients.

The effects can be counteracted with the right nutrients.

A diet high in sugar slows down the brain, research finds.

Both memory and learning were weakened by a diet high in fructose (sugar).

However, omega-3 fatty acids can help fight the problem, the scientists also discovered.

Around 1g of DHA a day could be enough to help counteract the deleterious effects of sugar.

Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, study co-author, said:

“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think.

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 study gave some rats a high fructose solution to drink for six weeks.

Another group were also fed omega-3 fatty acids.

Professor Gomez-Pinilla explained the results:

“The second group of rats navigated the maze much faster than the rats that did not receive omega-3 fatty acids.

The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity.

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.”

Professor Gomez-Pinilla advises that we should keep sugary food intake to a minimum:

“We’re less concerned about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants.

We’re more concerned about the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.”

Omega-3, though, can help protect the brain, Professor Gomez-Pinilla said:

“Our findings suggest that consuming DHA regularly protects the brain against fructose’s harmful effects.

It’s like saving money in the bank.

You want to build a reserve for your brain to tap when it requires extra fuel to fight off future diseases.”

The study was published in the journal Physiology (Agrawal & Gomez-Pinilla, 2012).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004.

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