A diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning, according to a new study published in the Journal of Physiology.“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Feranado Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a professor of integrative biology and physiology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

For the study, researchers studied two groups of rats that each consumed a fructose solution as drinking water for six weeks. The second group also received omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and DHA, which protects against damage to the synapses – the chemical connections between the brain cells that enable memory and learning. The animals were fed standard rat food and trained on a maze twice daily for five days before starting the experimental diet. Then the study team tested how well the rats were able to navigate the maze, which contained numerous holes but only one exit. The researchers place visual landmarks in the maze to help the rats learn and remember the way.

For more fitness and health tips, follow ThaFitenssGroup on Twitter @ThaFitnessGroup.