Latest News » Fructose-based memory loss may be fought with fatty acids, study shows

Too much sugar could be bad for the brain.

Countless studies have shown that sugar, when consumed in excessive amounts, can cause considerable physiological damage. Sugar has already been linked to conditions like obesity and diabetes, and now, new research published in May revealed that it may affect brain health as well.

According to a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, a sustained diet that includes too much fructose can impair parts of the brain, making it more difficult to form new memories and process novel information.

Neurosurgery professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, along with visiting postdoctoral fellow co-author Rahul Agrawal and their research team, came to this conclusion by monitoring the behavior of rats that had been given a fructose solution in the place of regular drinking water.

To determine their pre-existing abilities, the researchers fed the rats a regular diet and had them make their way through a maze repeatedly, a press release from the university states. Once they were given the fructose daily, the rats increasingly struggled to complete the maze over the course of six weeks.

Some of the rats tested, the source explains, were found to have grown resistant to insulin. This led Gomez-Pilla to speculate that "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."

However, the damage done is not irrevocable. Curious about the effects that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a brain-boosting compound, the researchers gave one group of rats regular doses of the beneficial compound. The press release states that the rats who consumed the omega-3 fatty acid with the fructose solution were better at making their way out of the maze. This implies that omega-3 fatty acids may cancel out the effects of excess fructose on the brain.

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