|Attack of the Killer Sodas?|
With even the soda companies advertising smaller portions as healthier, it's hard to avoid the message that high-sugar foods are bad for you. That's especially true of those that contain high-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in huge amounts in packaged foods and soft drinks that has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and kidney disease. So clearly, eating sugar isn't smart...and now there's evidence that it can make you less smart even as you're consuming it.
A new study from UCLA shows that a diet steadily high in fructose slows brain function, hampering memory and learning—and that omega-3 fatty acids (naturally occurring in high-fat fish like salmon and tuna and some plant sources like flaxseed and walnuts) can counteract the brain drain.
Okay, they did use rats for the study. But those little guys can be useful, and their maze-running really took a nose-dive after six weeks on a high-fructose, typical-American-teenager (or maybe just typical American?) diet. The rats who'd been guzzling fructose navigated mazes more slowly, hitting dead ends and forgetting twists and turns that they'd been taught a few weeks earlier, while the rats that had also been fed omega-3 ran through like little geniuses. The bodies of the all-fructose rats showed signs of resistance to insulin as well, which not only has implications for diabetes but also affects brain function.
Translate to a school-full of kids who have access to soft drink machines and you have...complete cognitive dissonance. Kids studying and dumbing down at the same time. Rotting their brains. Now, we could try to counteract that with big doses of omega-3s, which happen to be super-healthy in all kinds of other ways as well—always a good nutrient to consume. But seriously, how many teenagers do you know who chow down on salmon and flaxseed daily? Or we could take the entirely logical step of working to drastically reduce consumption of these completely empty-calorie, super-fattening, heart-disease-promoting, and now apparently stupefying products. Tell that to the people making billions of dollars from marketing them to our children.