Fructose is used in foods that are sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup. Americans consumed about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014, so it is used frequently and Americans are making themselves susceptible to diseases and conditions that are caused from a change in genes in the brain. These diseases range from Alzheimer’s to diabetes, hyperactivity disorder, and more. The cause of this changes in genes is the consumption of fructose; however, scientists have found good news as well. The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid appears to be able to reverse the effects of fructose to genes in the brain. In order to tests these hypotheses, researchers divided rats into three groups and trained them to escape from a maze. One group drank water with a high concentration of fructose over it, one group drank water containing fructose and the omega-3 fatty acid, and the third group only drank water. Over the course of six weeks, they drank the water and were put into the maze again. Those who consumed fructose figured out the maze half as fast as the other groups. The other two groups had similar results, suggesting that docosahexaenoic acid does in fact reverse the effects of fructose. Researchers then sequenced 20,000 genes in rats’ brains and out of the 900 genes that they identified that were altered by fructose, two in particular (Bgn and Fmod) are among the first genes that fructose alters in the brain. Once those are altered, the rest follow, so these will be the targets for new drugs to treat diseases that are caused by fructose alterations of the genes in the brain.
I knew that fructose and other -ose sugars were bad for the body, but I was unaware that fructose could actually alter your genes. The brain controls everything in your body, so it is alarming that the genes are being altered simply from consuming food products with high-fructose corn syrup. Other food additives including MSG (monosodium glutamate) have also often been said to have an effect on the brain and memory in particular. These findings are alarming and shows that people should watch what they eat not just because of body weight, but also, because of overall health and long-lasting effects. The research with the rats clearly shows that fructose has an effect on alertness and memory, because they finished the maze half as fast as the other two groups. It is good, however, that docosahexaenoic acid can reverse the effects. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been said to be good for your heart. While I will probably not completely cut out fructose from my diet, perhaps I will consider taking a supplement containing omega-3’s in order to improve my health and prevents the effects of fructose.