Over 5 million Americans suffer from some form of brain injury, and depending on the severity of the injury, recovery can take days, months, years, or a lifetime. In a new study, UCLA scientists recently found that a diet high in fructose–a form of sugar–can hinder and slow recovery from brain injury.
According to one of the study authors, Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery and integrative biology and physiology at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, “…Americans consume most of their fructose from processed foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)… we found that processed fructose inflicts surprisingly harmful effects on the brain’s ability to repair itself after a head trauma.”
The study, which was conducted in rats, used two groups: one that drank water and one that drank HFCS-infused water. After a week of drinking these 2 drinks, the rats learned a maze, and then the researchers performed a therapy that reproduces symptoms of human brain injury. After 6 more weeks on the water or HFCS diet, the rats were re-tested on the maze. The researchers found that the HFCS group took 30 percent longer to complete the maze as compared to the water-drinking rats.
Worth noting: while fructose is also naturally found in fruit, plant products like fruits also contain fiber and other nutrients that work against the fructose damage, so the researchers are not concerned about moderate fructose intake from fruit sources.
Want to learn more?
- Read more about this study from the official UCLA news release
- Access a wealth of information about brain healthy foods and nutrition on our website
- Watch out a great video called “This is Your Brain on Sugar”
- Read about another study that links sugar and fat intake with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s