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Sugary treats can make you dull

health and fitness Updated: Jun 02, 2012 01:13 IST

Highlight Story

Love sponge cakes and soft drinks? Beware, they may impair your thinking and learning capacity, say scientists.

The harmful effects

In experiments on mice, researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles found that eating high-fructose diets 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.

“A long term high-fructose diet alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega 3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimise the damage,” study researcher Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said.

The experiment

Researchers zeroed in on corn syrup, which is six times sweeter than cane sugar and is commonly added to processed foods.Before starting the experiment, the rats were taught to navigate their way through a maze using visual landmarks.

They were then divided into two groups. Both consumed a fructose solution, but half of them also got omega 3 fatty acids. After six weeks of their new diet, the researchers tested the rats’ recall of the maze route.

“The second group navigated the maze much faster than the rats that didn’t have omega 3 fatty acids,” Gomez-Pinilla said. “Their brain cells had trouble signalling each other, disrupting their ability to recall the route they had learned.”