A diet rich in an omega-3 fatty acid is a promis­ing antidote to fruc­tose

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - dr He­lena Popovic

AT last a good news story about fruc­tose. But first an­other bad news story. Sorry. Fruc­tose has been shown to im­pair brain func­tion by chang­ing hun­dreds of genes in the hip­pocam­pus and hy­po­thal­a­mus that reg­u­late learn­ing, mem­ory and me­tab­o­lism. High fruc­tose lev­els dam­age signaling be­tween neu­rons, in­crease toxic mol­e­cules in the brain and di­min­ish the abil­ity to learn and re­mem­ber in­for­ma­tion. But the same UCLA sci­en­tists have found a promis­ing antidote: con­sum­ing a diet high in do­cosa­hex­aenoic acid (DHA) - an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is abun­dant in oily fish (par­tic­u­larly wild but not farmed salmon, mack­erel, her­ring, trout and sar­dines) and to a lesser ex­tent in nuts (es­pe­cially wal­nuts) seeds, flaxseed oil, whole grains and dark green, leafy veg­eta­bles. DHA ap­pears to have the op­po­site ef­fect to fruc­tose on gene ex­pres­sion. In stud­ies on rats fed both DHA and fruc­tose, the harm­ful ef­fects of fruc­tose were largely pre­vented.

Re­searchers trained rats to es­cape from a maze and then ran­domly as­signed them to one of three groups. The first group re­ceived wa­ter con­tain­ing fruc­tose equiv­a­lent to one litre of soft drink per day for six weeks. The sec­ond group re­ceived or­di­nary wa­ter. The third group re­ceived the same amount of fruc­tose wa­ter as the first group, to­gether with diet rich in DHA.

Af­ter six weeks, the rats were put through the maze again. The rats drink­ing or­di­nary wa­ter were twice as fast as the rats drink­ing fruc­tose. This in­di­cates that fruc­tose had im­paired their me­mories. But the rats who drank fruc­tose AND ate lots of DHA were al­most as fast as the rats drink­ing or­di­nary wa­ter! The DHA pro­tected their me­mories!

This is not a li­cence to con­sume a box of donuts as long as you had grilled salmon for din­ner. There have not been any equiv­a­lent hu­man tri­als nor rec­om­men­da­tions for what con­sti­tutes a diet high in DHA. The mes­sage is that no sin­gle di­etary fac­tor is the iso­lated cause of poor health. It’s the to­tal­ity of what we eat and the in­ter­play of dif­fer­ent foods that has the great­est im­pact on our health. So keep fu­el­ing your­self with nu­tri­tious home cooked meals and you will mit­i­gate the ef­fects of oc­ca­sional in­dis­cre­tions. What about ar­ti­fi­cially sweet­ened soft drinks as an antidote to fruc­tose? Are they bet­ter for health? No!


A US study of over 9500 adults found that con­sump­tion of diet soft drinks was also as­so­ci­ated with an in­creased risk of diabetes. Af­ter the nine-year re­search pe­riod, al­most 40 per­cent of par­tic­i­pants had de­vel­oped three or more in­di­ca­tors of meta­bolic syn­drome. More re­cently, re­search pub­lished in March 2015 in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Ge­ri­atrics

So­ci­ety, re­vealed a strik­ing dose-re­sponse re­la­tion­ship be­tween diet soda in­take and ab­dom­i­nal obe­sity. Seven hun­dred and forty­nine Mex­i­can and Euro­pean-Amer­i­cans aged 65 years and older were fol­lowed for over nine years. In that time the diet soda drinkers gained al­most triple the ab­dom­i­nal fat as the non-diet soda drinkers. Non-drinkers had an in­crease in waist cir­cum­fer­ence of 0.8 inches (2 cm), oc­ca­sional users an in­crease of 1.83 inches (4.7 cm) and daily users an in­crease of 3.16 inches (8 cm)!

Ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers pro­vide no calo­ries be­cause the body is not able to di­gest them. So how can they lead to weight gain and diabetes? In 2013, sci­en­tists at the Weiz­mann In­sti­tute in Is­rael set out to an­swer this ques­tion. They added sac­cha­rin, su­cralose or as­par­tame to the drink­ing wa­ter of mice. Af­ter 11 weeks the mice showed ev­i­dence of glu­cose in­tol­er­ance and in­sulin re­sis­tance. The mech­a­nism was a change in gut bac­te­ria. Ar­ti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers caused an in­crease in sev­eral dif­fer­ent types of bac­te­ria that had al­ready been linked to obe­sity in pre­vi­ous hu­man stud­ies. When the sci­en­tists



trans­planted gut bac­te­ria from sac­cha­rin-con­sum­ing mice into healthy mice, the healthy mice also de­vel­oped glu­cose in­tol­er­ance. Giv­ing the mice an­tibi­otics to wipe out the bac­te­ria cured their glu­cose in­tol­er­ance! Gut bac­te­ria make up more than 90 per­cent of the cells in the hu­man body – they need to be re­spected. But that’s a whole other ar­ti­cle! Stay tuned!

Dr He­lena Popovic is a med­i­cal doc­tor, a lead­ing au­thor­ity on how to im­prove brain func­tion, in­ter­na­tional speaker and best-sell­ing au­thor. She runs weight man­age­ment re­treats based on liv­ing, not di­et­ing, and is the au­thor of the award-win­ning book ‘Neuro-Slim­ming – let your brain change your body’. For more in­for­ma­tion, re­fer to He­lena’s web­site.

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