At this point, there's really no good excuses anymore. Whenever you reach into the grocery store's chilled beverage section and grab a Coke or Pepsi or whatever other high fructose corn syrup/sugar-laden drink that's your liquid dessert of choice, you know it's not the best thing for your body. All that sweet stuff is one of the leading causes of obesity, saddles people with diabetes, has been linked to arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, and on and on. It's, in other words, a known quantity, and that quantity is ruining your body.
But all these aforementioned negatives may just be the tip of the iceberg. If all of that internal organ destruction wasn't enough to scare you, how about the knowledge that eating sugary substances also messes with your brain? Turns out, eating all that sugar makes you pretty dumb.
At least, that's the result of a new study by UCLA biology professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, who went the lab rat route to determine how the consumption of sugar messes with memory and learning abilities. And what did the rats tell us:
In the study, two groups of rats were fed standard rat food and trained to navigate a maze for five days before starting a high-fructose diet. Six weeks later, one group of rats passed through the maze much more slowly, with the researchers speculating that the sugar was causing rodents' brain cells to have trouble signaling each other.
But the study didn't end there, with rats simply running into walls and professors presumably chuckling throughout. Instead, they tried to combat the now stoner-esque brain of the rodents by feeding them some extra foods and supplements to see how their puzzled minds would react. The results:
Despite being on the same sugary diet, the other group of rats scurried through the maze just fine. What was the difference? The researchers gave these rodents a supplement of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flax seed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Which all leads the doctors in the study to recommend that, if you really need to get some kind of sugar boost in order to, oh I don't know, pull an all-nighter before a big final exam or man the tower at air traffic control, eat a whole lot of omega-3 fatty acid rich foods. That includes items like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts. But that recommendation seems to be more of the after-the-fact "band aid solution" than actually changing one's habits so you won't need these masking agents.
Instead, it's best to try to boost your own energy levels high through more natural means. In other words, through tried-and-true methods like: (1) eating several meals throughout the day instead of one giant blowout; (2) exercising regularly; (3) getting enough sleep; (4) meditation or other stress-relieving techniques; (5) and just generally staying away from the sugary treats. Changing your lifestyle by adding these to your repertoire, rather than giving your need for a mid-afternoon sugar buzz the Coke it desperately wants, is not only the smart thing to do. It will actually, in this case, literally not make you dumb!
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