Can Eating Too Much Sugar Lower Your Intelligence?

We are all familiar with the health problems that can result from consuming too much sugar, including obesity and diabetes, but new research suggests that too much sugar can also have a negative impact on the mind.

Sugar Negatively Affects Memory

In a recent study, lab rats were fed a diet of high-fructose corn syrup for a period of six weeks to gauge the effects of sugar on memory.  Two groups of rats were fed with a solution of high-fructose corn syrup with only one of the groups also receiving omega-3 supplementation in the form of flaxseed oil. Omega-3 fatty acids boost brain power, so this was included in the study to determine whether omega-3s can help to combat the negative effects of sugar.  The study showed that the group of rats that did not receive the flaxseed oil had a more difficult time remembering a maze they had previously learned.  They were slower than the group that had been given flaxseed oil in addition to the high-fructose corn syrup, and they showed a decrease in synaptic activity and brain cell signals.

In addition to their inability to recall the maze, the group that did not receive omega-3 supplementation developed a resistance to insulin. Not only did this mean that their bodies were no longer able to regulate blood sugar, but in the brain insulin can affect learning and memory.  Therefore, this study revealed that high sugar intake can lead to memory loss and can disrupt the ability to learn.

Common Foods Containing High-Fructose Corn Syrup:

  • Soda
  • Condiments
  • Applesauce
  • Baby Food
  • Other Processed Snacks

The typical American diet includes approximately 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, and over the course of one’s life this can diminish cognitive ability.  However, this study suggests that adding an omega-3 supplement to the diet can limit the damaging effects of sugar. This new research which illustrates how sugar affects the mind as well as the body can help to educate the average American on the importance of limiting sugar intake and increasing amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet.


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