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Dean George is the Marketing Specialist and Content Creator for Dental Insurance
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Can too much of this make you stupid?

Jun 26, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner in the latest nutritional trifecta sweepstakes! A single ingredient that not only super-sizes our girth and rots our teeth, but now we’re learning it may also make us stupid.

High fructose corn syrup, commonly found in sodas, sweets, and many processed foods, is a daily staple that is tattooing us with health complications previously reserved for the likes of Willy Wonka and movie candy junkies.

A new rat study by UCLA (real laboratory rats, not the professors) has indicated that diets high in sucrose, or cane sugar, and the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup, can also impair memory and learning ability. 

“Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information,” said Fernando 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. “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think." 

In the UCLA study the research team trained rats to navigate a maze after feeding them only water and standard rat chow (known as k-rations in the military and hospital food to the rest of us) for five consecutive days. For six weeks afterwards half of the rats were given flaxseed oil and fish oil, both omega-3 fatty acids antioxidants. Six weeks after a high fructose diet, all the rats were slower at running the maze but those fed the omega-3’s were slightly faster. 

Kinda like dumb and dumber but with rats.

"I was very shocked to see how strong an effect these diets could have on the brain—I have high concern that the foods people eat can really affect mood and cognition," Gomez-Pinilla said. “But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

Well, that’s good news. So as long as we gulp a tuna chaser and fish-oil pills after consuming a 12 oz. can of soda we may lessen the chance we morph into a genius like Kanye West.  

Pinilla made it clear his study dealt with high-fructose corn syrup, not the natural kind bequeathed by Mother Nature. “We’re not talking about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants. We’re concerned about high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative,” he said.

Food manufacturers use high-fructose corn syrup because it’s cheaper than table sugar. The U.S. Department of Agriculture states that the average person in the U.S. consumes more than 60 pounds of it annually. That means that most Americans consume more sweeteners than a Brownie Troop working as cotton candy tasters.

Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s June ban on drinks 16 oz and larger containing more than 25 calories per eight fluid ounces means well, but somehow I can’t imagine the Founding Fathers arguing that as a role for the federal government or the states.  ‘Give me tyranny (and in NYC a couple of 9 oz bottles of Coca-Cola for $3.50 because the $0.79 cent Polar Pop might mean jail time) or give me girth?’

Here’s a better idea. What if we collectively exercise some personal responsibility by consulting the reams of nutritional information, scientific studies and common sense we possess, combine that with regular brushing, flossing and dental visits, and self-regulate our high fructose intake by watching what we eat and drink? Wouldn’t that be smart?

Of course, that might be a stupid idea because I did enjoy a soda last night.

In July our blog will focus on cosmetic dental procedures like teeth whitening, veneers and implants so be sure to check back in July for the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

Thanks for reading Agent Straight-Talk. Remember, “If you don’t have a smile, I’ll gladly give you one of mine.” Email me at:

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Copyright 2012, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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