Making You Stupid

The Common Food Ingredient That’s Making You Stupid

Lab studies show high-fructose corn syrup can actually sabotage your smarts in just 6 weeks.

Brain-harming high-fructose corn syrup hides out in unexpected places. Be sure to read the label.

Foods that appear to be nutritious could actually be destroying your brainpower. The culprit? A common ingredient slipped into many “healthy” foods, including baby food, applesauce, and oatmeal, a breakfast favorite. Researchers at UCLA found that ingesting foods and drinks containing the ingredient high-fructose corn syrup for just six weeks caused troubling changes in brain function. “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” says Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor of neurosurgery and integrative biology and physiology at UCLA. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.”

While high-fructose corn syrup is rampant in soda and candy products, it also hides out in some seemingly innocuous items like bread, juices, ketchup, and instant oatmeal. (Previous studies have found high-fructose corn syrup is sometimes contaminated with mercury.) Most often associated with obesity and diabetes, this latest study, appearing in the Journal of Physiology, shows this industrial food ingredient can harm the brain, too.

Source: Rodale Read more

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5 responses to this post.

  1. I try to avoid things with high fructose corn syrup, but mostly because I avoid processed foods that tend to have them. The study is definitely interesting. I hope they’ll keep experimenting! Your first link points out that sucrose has virtually the same ratio of [harmful] fructose to glucose as high fructose corn syrup. I would be fascinated to see the results of an additional study that compared the effects of sucrose on the brain and maybe had another control group that wasn’t fed the additional omega-3s but was fed a low fructose diet. I think the amount of sugar in western diets, whether cane/beet sugar or HFCS, is probably the bigger problem.

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    • >Jennifer, it’s not the fructose that’s the problem, it’s the high ratio in HFCS that the problem. I can’t remember the exact figures now, but it’s something like 40% we get normally from natural foods, HFCS has 55% and that’s the danger. I have read of similar on sucrose and that’s not in the same league, although the consumption of white sugar is more harmful than raw sugar. Generally, you’re right, our collective sweet tooths have run amok.

      AV

      Damn, I had to repost that…

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  2. Posted by smallftprints on May 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I’m an avid label reader and won’t buy anything with HFCS … nor do I buy anything with more than about 5 ingredients … ingredients that I can identify (no hydrogenated oils or ingredients that sound like chemicals). Oh, and I won’t buy a product where sugar (or any kind of sweetener) is the first (second or third) ingredient. That leaves out almost everything in the market. So what do we do? We buy whole foods and make stuff from scratch. Here’s the interesting thing … we’ve found that not only do we feel better but the food tastes so much better. Homemade bread & pasta without all the “gunk” is wonderful!!

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    • >SF, yes I can just imagine that you are rather the expert at this. Much more so than I, I always forget to take my glasses to the supermarket and that makes it hard because all these lists and stuff are printed so small. But I do agree with you, I make juice at home and do what I can. I hate buying ready made stuff. Being a chef also makes it easier, because I am rather quick about the kitchen.

      AV

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  3. “Instant Oatmeal” is one of my pet peeves. It’s a TOTAL SCAM even without the additional health threat of HFCS. If you boil water and at it to plain oatmeal, it cooks in a less than a minute. You can add whatever flavorings you like … raisins, cranraisins (my favorite!), cinnamon, any fruit bits you want … and the result is as good or better than the “instant oatmeal” in terms of freshness, flavor, nuitrition and price.
    Instead of HFCS, why not a spoon of honey? Just as sweet and much much better for you!
    OK, I’ll stop raving now. Thanks for the warning!

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