Sugar, junk food can slow down your brain

WASHINGTON – The list of foods to avoid seems to change almost daily. But when it comes to brain power, certain foods really are better than others.

Sugar, for example, isn’t just bad for your waistline. It also slows down your brain.

A UCLA study recently found that rats fed a fructose solution had a difficult time navigating a maze and showed signs of slow learning and memory loss, according to Yahoo. Researchers hypothesized that the sugary diet decreased brain activity by hindering insulin’s ability to help cells process emotions and thoughts.

Other foods that could make you less intelligent include red meat and butter. Women who ate foods high in saturated fat scored lower on memory and brain function tests, according to a Harvard study published in the Annals of Neurology.

Children who ate junk food like pizza and chips at a young age also scored badly in a 2011 British study of nearly 4,000 kids. Those who ate poorly at 3 years old scored lower in IQ tests just five years later compared with children who had healthier diets.

The same might be true for adults.

Rodents fed fatty foods experienced damage to the hypothalamus region of the brain, which produces hormones that control things like hunger and thirst. The Journal of Clinical Investigation study suggests that unhealthy diets in humans can scar brains and make it harder for people to regulate appetite control.

But don’t ditch the carbs if you’re trying to improve your family’s diet. A Tufts study found that eliminating carbohydrates was tied to a dip in cognitive skills. Instead of attempting an Atkins-like regimen, choose healthier options like whole grain.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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