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How sugar can reduce brain power

Posted by Caroline Masters on


A recent study shed light on negative effects of sugar on the brain and positive effects of omega 3’s. Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) did research on lab rats. Before the study, the rats needed a few days to learn to navigate a maze set up by researchers. Then some of the rats were given diets rich either high in omega-3 fatty acids or lacking omega 3s. One group of rats were given a sugary solution in the place of regular drinking water. After six weeks on their respective diets, researchers put the rats back in the maze to see how their memory recalled it the maze routes previously learnt.

The rats that had diets lacking in omega-3 were slower at navigating the maze than those with diets rich in omega-3s. Rats given the sugary solution instead of water showed slowest brain function. Rats deprived of DHA had trouble thinking clearly, unable to recall routes learned weeks earlier. DHA is an important fatty acid in omega 3 thought to aid brain function.

Researchers reckon sugar blocks the effect of insulin on brain cells thus influencing our thoughts and reducing our ability to have clear thoughts.


Not all sugar is equal. Professor Gomez-Pinilla (of UCLA) explains natural fructose found in fruits are safe and contain natural antioxidants; however manufactured food products like artificial sweeteners and preservatives are harmful. He is concerned with “high-fructose corn syrup”, the most common sweetener used in America but restricted in Europe; however, many unnatural sugars in the Irish diet cause problems.


This study indicated Omega-3s counteract effects of sugar and importance of cutting down highly processed, high-sugar foods. Our bodies are poor producers of DHA and EPA (essential fatty acids within omega 3); a diet rich in fatty acids is beneficial. Best sources of DHA/EPA are oily fish like mackerel, tuna, sardines and salmon. For vegetarians and those that do not like fish, flaxseed oil (linseed oil) is six times richer than most fish oils in and its oil are the most widely available botanical source of omega 3. While studies in animals have no guarantee of the same effect in humans, the findings do seem to mirror results of other studies on sugars and omega 3’s.


What if you don’t like fish?

Fresh oily fish like salmon or tuna (twice a week) is the best way to get sufficient omega 3. If you don’t like fish, the omega 3 supplement I recommend is MorEPA® as it has the highest concentration of Omega 3 on the market and is in a convenient once daily dose with no after-taste. Special offer packs are available in Whelehans Pearse st and Clonmore.


Whelehans Nutrition Service

Whelehans nutrition service is a friendly, flexible and affordable service offering one to one consultations with follow up programmes and weekly monitoring.   Suitable for men, women and children. Call our Nutritionist Caroline Masters on 086-3994615 or email her at or call Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse Street on 044 9334591.

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Find us on Facebook.

Disclaimer: Advice in this article is general. For more specific advice and information on diet and food, speak to a dietician or nutritionist

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