In 2012, researchers conducted a study on rats and sugar (high fructose) intake. They began the study by dividing the rats into two groups and providing them the same environment and diet for 6 weeks prior to the study, to ensure validity of results. During these six weeks, they also trained the rats to navigate a maze with pretty even results among both groups.
The next 6 weeks, one group of rats was given a high fructose diet through its water. The other group was given high fructose as well, but also omega-3’s. At the end of the 6 given the omegas were able to. The conclusions of this study were two-fold:
- High levels of fructose will hamper memory and learning.
- High levels of fructose appeared to interrupt the natural work of insulin in keeping synapses operating
- Omegas can counteract the effects of high fructose levels.
According to one of the researchers, Dr. David Geffen, “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”
London University Study
Another study in the same year at the University of London found that children who are subject to a steady diet of fast food have lower IQ’s as teens and young adults who grow up on a diet of more natural, fresh foods. This confirmed an earlier study with the same results. The common denominator? Again, it is high-fructose corn syrup, which is a major ingredient in every type of fast food. This lowering of IQ’s over time “dumbs down” kids who move on to college and may falter when they try to take the hardest college classes. Their non-fructose consuming peers will have an edge.
Sources of Fructose in Western Diets
The two sources of fructose in our diet are cane sugar, also called sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup, a liquid sweetener. Corn syrup is added to almost every processed food we eat, but it is obviously in high concentrations in the sweets that our kids eat. And there is strong evidence pointing to the fact that steady and frequent consumption of these types of sweets create an addiction to them.
There is another source of fructose in our diets – fruits. Yes, they do have fructose. The difference, however, is that fruits also contain omega-3’s, and so the adverse effects of fructose found in fruits are eliminated, just as they were with those rats.
Substituting Bad Sweets for Good
This is easier said than done, especially for children who have been on a steady diet of high-fructose sweets. Probably the best approach is a gradual one, as “cold turkey” withdrawal will get you some really unwanted behaviors, both at home and at school.
- 1.Begin by substituting rather than by totally eliminating. Instead of regular popsicles, buy the real fruit juice ones.
- 2.Substitute honey for jelly on PBJ sandwiches
- 3.Substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate. If they complain that it is not sweet enough, melt it and dip bananas or ripe strawberries in it. Dark chocolate does not have fructose, and there is the added benefit of antioxidants.
- 1.Fast-food night is cut back to one night a week. This is reasonable. Make it a big deal for them. They can take turns choosing the place, and put it on a calendar on the fridge.
- 2.Buy far less soda. There are fruit juice alternatives now. Make popsicles with fruit juice. Add lots of ice to make it really cold. Soda is for special occasions – having a friend spend the night or a birthday party.
- 3.Make ice cream out of bananas. They can help. Puree bananas and stick in the freezer. Add other types of fruit too. They will be amazed how good this really tastes, and they can have a dark chocolate topping.
- 4.Get rid of the chips. Replace with pretzels, popcorn and all natural granola (with honey and dried fruit as the only sweeteners).
- 1.Make smoothies an everyday option for breakfast, as a snack or as dessert. Get a recipe book for smoothies – you will be amazed how many varieties there are (and you can even sneak a few veggies in)
- 2.Have trail mix available at all times – nuts, dried fruit, and some dark chocolate chips
- 3.Greek yogurt with fresh fruit is perfect. If you buy already-prepared yogurt and fruit combinations of any kind, check the labels. No corn syrup added only. If you buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit, or puree fruit and mix in, you are safe from corn syrup.
- 4.Frozen grapes will become a favorite.
A Favorite Recipe
This one will be a winner because it’s just fun to eat. Combine 2 parts plain Greek yogurt with 1 part fruit of your choice. Blend it until smooth. Line a sheet pan with waxed paper and drop teaspoonful’s of the mixture onto the sheet, leaving space so they don’t touch. Freeze for a few hours until frozen solid. Pour them into a baggie and put back in the freezer. Kids can pop them into their mouths as often as they want – no brain damage here!
So, make your children smart.