Washington: Love to have those sponge cakes and soft drinks in
your daily diet? Beware, they may impair your thinking and
learning capacity, scientists say.
In experiments on mice, researchers at the University of
California in Los Angeles found that eating high-fructose diets
— such as cakes, cookies, jams, jellies, crackers and carbonated
soft drinks — for as little as six weeks can make one stupid.
But, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can counteract this
IQ loss, the researchers suggested. “Our findings illustrate
that what you eat affects how you think,” study researcher
Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said. “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 minimise the damage,” Gomez-Pinilla was quoted as saying by
The study, published in Journal of Physiology, was done on
rats, but the researchers believe their brain chemistry is
similar enough to humans to extend the findings. For the study,
the researchers zeroed in on high-fructose corn syrup, an
inexpensive liquid six times sweeter than canesugar, that is
commonly added to processed foods, including soft drinks,
condiments, applesauce and baby food.
Before starting the experiment, the rats were taught to
navigate their way through a maze using visual landmarks to
remember the way. Then the rats were divided into two groups,
both consumed a fructose solution as their water, but one half
of them also received omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to
protect against damage to the synapses — the chemical
connections between brain cells that enable memory and learning.
After six weeks of their new diet, the researchers tested
the rats’ recall of the maze route. “The second group of rats
navigated the maze much faster than the rats that did not
receive omega-3 fatty acids,” Gomez-Pinilla said.
“Their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity. Their
brain cells had trouble signalling each other, disrupting the
rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they had
learned six weeks earlier.”