Most people know that a diet high in sugar can lead to insulin resistance, hyperactivity in kids, sluggishness in adults, and weight gain for all. But it turns out sugar isn’t just bad for your body-it’s bad for your brain and can inhibit brain functioning. A recent study from the University of California (UCLA) suggests a diet high in fructose impairs the brain’s ability to learn and remember.  “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long-term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.” The study focused on fructose, which is prevalent in processed foods. Other sources of fructose in the Western diet include cane sugar and the highly controversial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These sugars are found in baked goods, orange juice, peanut butter, condiments, sodas, baby food, and even in certain children’s medications. Because of all the sugar present in processed foods and drinks, most Americans get 21 teaspoons of sugar a day, almost 3 1/2 times what is recommended. Our brain can only use sugar (fructose and glucose) for its fuel, and converts carbohydrates into glucose for the brain, but if there is too much of the wrong kind of sugar (added sugar and HFCS), the brain is negatively affected. A diet high in sugar also reduces the important brain chemical, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). When BDNF is reduced the brain.’s ability to remember or learn is impaired. Adding to the problem, as BDNF decreases, so does the body’s ability to metabolize sugar, which leads to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes type 2. Low levels of BDNF have also been linked to depression and dementia, and may also be a key link to diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Additionally, the brain’s ability to regulate appetite and satiety are dulled by a diet high in sugar, which will lead to weight gain and obesity. Bottom line: High sugar intake harms not only our body’s, but our brains as well. This information was paraphrased from an excellent article written by Barbi Walker in the November 2012 issue of Green Living magazine.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.