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Does Sugar Affect Mental Functioning?

Limiting added sugar intake is important for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing health issues like diabetes. New research is revealing that consuming too much sugar may be detrimental to your cognitive functions as well. According to a study recently published in the Journal of Physiology, a high-fructose diet negatively affects the brain’s ability to learn and retain information.

For the purposes of the study, researchers used high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener that is much less expensive than cane sugar and is commonly used in processed foods. Before consuming the corn syrup, rats were taught to navigate a maze and remember paths. Then, researchers fed the rats for six week on a diet of either a high-fructose corn syrup solution or high-fructose corn syrup with omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oil.

The rats that had not received omega-3 fatty acids displayed much more difficulty navigating the mazes after six weeks. The study suggests that the rats developed an insulin resistance that changed the way brain cells process information. The rats that took omega-3s performed better during the later trials, suggesting that the acids help to protect and heal brain cells.

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