Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
If you want to keep a healthy brain, there are things you need to avoid. Mostly conditions like heart disease, diabetes and other health problems that can wreak havoc on your brain.
However, recent science shows that medical conditions aren’t the only culprits that can jeopardize your brain health.
You see, there’s a common food that leads to the aforementioned conditions and can scramble the brain — fructose.
Yep, the processed sweetener that’s found in everything from soda to salad dressing can mess with your memory and curtail your cognitive ability. There’s little doubt you have at least one item that contains fructose in your pantry right now.
And what’s truly upsetting about this — fructose breaks down your brain by destroying its building blocks — your genes.
Yes, this news is terrifying. Especially when you consider how difficult it can be to avoid fructose in our modern dietscape.
Fortunately, there’s some good news too.
Research from UCLA shows there’s a natural compound that can protect you from this brain-sabotaging sweetener.
How to Stop the Scramble
It’s called DHA, and it’s found in omega-3 fatty acids like the ones found in oily fish.
To test DHA’s power against fructose, UCLA scientists designed an experiment using rats.
For the study, researchers taught mice how to get out of a maze. Then they divided the rats into three different groups and monitored them for the following six weeks.
The first group drank a water-and-fructose solution that was equivalent to a human drinking a liter of soda every day. The second group was given the fructose water and also fed a diet rich in DHA. The third group received just plain ol’ water.
At the end of the six weeks, the scientists put the rats through the maze again.
And what they found was amazing…
The rats that drank the fructose water weren’t able to complete the maze as quickly as the other two groups. In fact, it took the sugar-chugging rats twice the time to escape the maze, suggesting that the fructose had affected their memory.
The rats who drank just water and the rats who were given fructose in combination with DHA had similar results. This suggests that DHA protected the rats’ brains from the negative effects of the fructose.
Because of these outstanding results, the researchers decided to take a closer look at the rats’ brains.
Next, they sequenced over 20,000 genes. They then discovered over 700 genes in the hypothalamus, which controls metabolism, and over 200 genes in the hippocampus, which is the center for memory and learning, were impacted by the fructose.
Most of the genes altered by the fructose intake were comparable to human genes that regulate inflammation, metabolism and cell communication.
But what was even more incredible…
The DHA didn’t just change one or two of the affected genes — it actually pushed the entire gene sequence back into order!
This means the DHA not only protected the rat’s’ brains from the fructose, but it’s also powerful enough to help put their brains back in order — even after being scrambled by sugar!
And just imagine what DHA might have done for the mice if it weren’t given with the fructose.
While this study was done on rats, it would make sense that DHA could have similar effects on the human brain. One reason for this is because DHA strengthens the brain and increases memory and learning.
The only problem is our bodies don’t naturally produce DHA, so it has to come through diet.
Wild salmon and other oily fish are a great addition to your diet if you’re trying to boost your DHA levels. But if you want to be sure you’re getting a healthy dose of DHA daily, you’re best bet is taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement daily.
Be sure to looks for one that’s approved by the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s, or GOED. GOED sets strict standards for concentration and freshness and strict limits for any toxic heavy metals and other contaminants. And also look for fish oil supplements that have been awarded the rare 5-star certification from the International Fish Oil Standards Program.
This way, you get all the heart-protective benefits of omega-3s without any dangerous toxins.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily