We are all guilty of loading on sugary sodas when we are under stress or need an energy boost, but students are the worst. For parents, it seems like they subsist on chocolate bars and giant cokes. While their goal is to stay awake and alert so that they could cram for exams, scientists say that they might be doing more damage than good. The latest study by a group of scientists from the UCLA recommends nuts, tuna sandwiches and flaxseeds instead of drinks full of fructose.
Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and his colleagues found that fructose has negative impact on both memory and brain cognitive function. On the other side, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids negate this effect.
Negative effects of fructose on the insulin resistance and high blood pressure have been well documented. Now it seems that fructose affects brain functions as well. Professor Gomez believes that the problem is in an enormous use of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods, which are the staple diet of busy North Americans. Fructose is often added even to foods that do not require it, such as meats, although the addiction to sodas is probably the biggest source of fructose in the modern diet.
Of course, not all fructose is the same. Small amount found in fruits is harmless, because fruits are also rich in anti-oxidants.
According to the USDA, Americans eat about 47 pounds of sugar and 35 pounds of high fructose corn syrup every year. Nutrition rich in sugar is linked to the ever increasing rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and a range of cancers.
What can we do?
Naturally, the first thing we can do is to cut on the amount of sugar we eat. Stay away from evil sodas. The next best thing is to store enough omega-3 fatty acids, which act as a shield from the damage to the brain synapses or electrical connections between brain cells, caused by fructose. So, if you are facing a big exam, store some trail mix full of walnuts, throw some flaxseeds into your morning cereal and get a few cans of tuna, for those night emergencies.