Most people have heard of fructose, the naturally-occurring sugar found in fruits. Fructose that is present in fruits is beneficial to your body as it also contains antioxidants. However, when fructose is added into prepackaged foods as an ingredient, the opposite is true. Current research has uncovered the negative effects of fructose on the body and has also found a way to fight it.

Where Fructose Is Found

Fructose is commonly added as a sweetener to prepackaged snacks. The term fructose includes cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Companies use fructose because it is inexpensive. Fructose is a main ingredient in soft drinks, sweet snacks and baby foods. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a majority of Americans consume about 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup every year. UCLA Professor of Neurosurgery, Dr. Gomez-Pinilla indicates that high-fructose corn syrup should be a particular concern.
UCLA Research

A recent UCLA study determined that a daily diet which is high in fructose can actually slow the brain. UCLA Professor of Neurosurgery Fernando Gomez-Pinilla explains that a diet high in fructose impairs memory ability and hampers the ability of your mind to learn new information. He says that this is the first study that has shown proof of how fructose sweetener impacts the brain.

What UCLA researchers did was studied two groups of rats. Both groups were given fructose in their drinking water. Only one of the groups was given omega-3 fatty acids in their water. Researchers used flaxseed oil and DHA to supplement the omega-3 fatty acids.

Both groups were fed the same rat food and were trained on navigating a maze before the beginning of the experiment. This maze had only one way to get out, although it contained many holes. UCLA researchers recorded how quickly each rat was able to find its way out of the maze.

After being fed the fructose or the fructose omega-3 combination, the same rats were retested after 6 weeks passed. Scientists recorded the ability of each of the rats to remember how to get out of the maze. They were surprised at their discovery.

The group that received the omega-3 fatty acids navigated the maze much faster than the other. The group without the omega-3 in their diet was much slower and was shown to have an impaired mental capacity. Tissue studies later showed that the insulin had lost its ability to command brain cell activity.

This study determined that fructose was to blame for the impaired brain activity. According to Dr. Gomez-Pinilla, "Eating too much fructose could block insulin's ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar for the energy required for processing thoughts and emotions." Dr. Gomez-Pinilla says that DHA is crucial in protecting the brain from the harmful effects of fructose.
About DHA

DHA is responsible for preserving the chemical connections between brain cells. Dr. Gomez-Pinilla explains that this is how the mind holds on to memories, as well as learns new information. He says that the human body is not capable of producing an adequate amount of DHA. For this reason he says DHA must be supplemented within the diet.
Sources of DHA and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids can be gained by eating salmon. Walnuts and flaxseeds are great snacks that are packed with omega-3's. For those who prefer supplementation, Dr. Gomez-Pinilla recommends taking 1 gram of DHA daily in tablet form.


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