Most people use the occasional soda for a quick mental energy boost, but this may do more harm than good in the long run, according to test findings from a new experimental study done with rats at the University of California, Los Angeles, more popularly known as UCLA.
The UCLA study actually had the dual purpose of showing “how a steady diet in high fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning, and how omega-3 fatty acids counteract the disruption.”
The UCLA study suggests eating “foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds, or taking a daily DHA capsule.”
(Author’s note: If you decide on taking vitamins, generally avoid drugstore off-the-shelf supplements. My father – in his late 70s – recently had problems with his memory, and when his neurologist ruled out Alzheimer’s, finding that my father had anemia and plague in his arteries, the doctor recommend high potency omega-3 and high potency multivitamins.
The doctor ordered supplements from a high quality facility, and said most over-the-counter supplements are largely fillers and ineffective. If you buy supplements, buy them online, and make sure that they are high potency, as natural as possible in origin, and don’t contain fillers. They will cost a lot more than over-the-counter supplements, but are worth it.
My father is feeling and looking much better. He has been taking the supplements for about two months. Also, if it makes you feel more comfortable, consult a doctor or nutritionist about recommendations for particular supplements.)
Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science, said “Our findings suggest that consuming DHA regularly protects the brain against fructose’s harmful effects.”
The UCLA study explains that, “Sources of fructose in the Western diet include sugar cane (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener. The syrup is widely added to processed foods, including soft drinks, condiments, apple sauce, and baby food. The average American consumes roughly 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn sugar per year.”
Pinilla added that, “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.”
“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. DHA is essential for synaptic function, which is the brain cells’ ability to transmit signals to one another,” continued Pinilla.
In the experiment study, two groups of rats each consumed a fructose solution as drinking water for six weeks. Only one of the groups received omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and DHA, that Pinilla again said, “protects against damage to the synapses, which are the chemical connections between brain cells that enable memory and learning.”
Before starting the experiment, all of the animals were given just regular water, fed standard rat chow, and trained to run a maze twice-a-day for five days. The maze contained a number of holes, but only one exit. The scientists also placed visual landmarks in the maze to help the rats learn and remember the way out.
The after six weeks on the modified diets, the group of rats receiving the omega-3 fatty acids “navigated the maze much faster than the rats that did not receive it. 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,” said the study.
The UCLA study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Pinilla’s lab next plans to examine the role of nutrition in recovery from brain trauma.
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