Is sugar making us stupid?
You have heard of the metabolic syndrome or “pre-diabetes” but what if that is also happening in your brain, making it slower, each time you (or worse, your kids) drink pop, eat candy or suck back sugar in your latte? Recent evidence from studies conducted at the University of California and published in the Journal of Physiology says just that.
It is well established that overuse of fructose causes an insulin spike in the body which can lead to receptor cells becoming unable to process properly. This is the metabolic syndrome. You know you have a problem when your own body turns its back on you and is no longer listening to the messages you are sending it through food. Now, it appears as though the same thing is happening in the brain.
Your brain needs a constant, steady flow of glucose to keep thinking clear thoughts. Keep in mind that it is also processing every other message in your body, how to move, how to digest, when to be reasonably stressed… messed up or blocked messages in your head can set up a cascade of issues.
What this study show is that rats trained to run a maze could learn to do so when on a normal diet. When they were fed fructose for a period of six weeks, they lost the ability to navigate and remember the way. In short, the sugar made them dumb. They were functioning just fine, they were fed crap, they got lost.
So, what’s happening? Here is a crass, simplistic description: fructose is a bully and it bashes its way into brain cells all willy nilly until the brain eventually stops being able to process messages quickly and effectively.
But there is a good guy that offers some protection according to this study. What is needed is the calming, soothing structure of Omega 3 fatty acids. What Omega 3 does is provide a smooth layer around the cells of the brain which allows steady, easy transfer of messages.
The bottom line is this: Our Standard North American Diet provides too much fructose and not enough omega 3’s and it is making us fat and stupid. Put down the pop, go get some fish.