If you’ve been eating a bit too much sugar lately you might have forgotten to keep up with your reading on the dangers of fructose. So to help you out, here’s an interesting tidbit.

Researchers at Georgia State University have shown that a high fructose diet impairs spatial memory. Amy Ross chucked a bunch of rats in a pool that had a tricky exit. To get out the rats had to swim to a submerged platform (like those ones in toddler swimming classes).
The rats were smart enough to learn that’s what they had to do to get out. But when Amy chucked them in again two days later only the rats on the control diet remembered that there should be a platform. The rats on the high fructose diet didn’t seem to remember the trick.
The researchers think that the reason for the difference is the way that fructose interferes with insulin singalling in the brain. Insulin appears to play a significant role in the brain’s ability to learn from new experiences. And because the fructose fills your blood with fat and that fat blunts the effect of insulin, memory is affected.
There’s a lot of question marks with this research. The diet was 60% fructose and nobody (with the possible exception of someone on weight-loss shakes) consumes that much fructose. That being said, its only 6 times the amount the Food Investigators recommend you eat.
Rats are usually fed higher doses of the substance being studied so as to replicate the effects of a lifetime of consumption for a human, so 60% is not that bizarre. Its worth noting that in the past researchers have been criticised for feeding rats 600 times the dose of artificial sweeteners and this is not even in the same ballpark as that.
We also don’t know what the control diet (for the rats with good memories) was or how many times the tests were conducted. But with all those caveats on board, its an interesting addition to the work on the ill effects of fructose.

Leave a Reply