Would you be able to walk, talk and remember new things again — or just be confined to a wheelchair, needing help with basic everyday activities?
New research out of UCLA has found that how well you recover from a brain injury could very well depend on what you’re eating and drinking – right now.
And especially if you’re at a high risk for a stroke, it’s important to make a change to your diet that could save your life and your independence.
While you still can.
Fructose and consequences
“Our take-home message can be boiled down to this: reduce fructose in your diet if you want to protect your brain.”
That’s how Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at UCLA, sums up his latest research.
I’ve told you before about how dangerous fructose is to your health. How it can trigger things like fatty liver disease (which can lead to a liver transplant), diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
But now Dr. Gomez-Pinilla has found that how much fructose you consume can determine whether you ever recover from a stroke.
“We found that processed fructose inflicts surprisingly harmful effects on the brain’s ability to repair itself,” he said.
But the doctor isn’t talking about that apple, peach or banana. He’s talking about the fructose that can come in every bite you eat and every sip you take of thousands upon thousands of processed foods and beverages made with high fructose corn syrup (HCFS).
And it’s not just soda we have to worry about, either, but healthy-sounding things like cereals, sauces, condiments, bread — even pickles.
The study found that consuming processed fructose only weeks prior to a brain injury “altered a wealth of biological processes.” Things such as how brain neurons communicate with each other, how connections are rewired and how memories are made after an injury.
While the research was done using rats, the exact damage to the brain appears to be the same as what people would experience.
Dr. Gomez-Pinilla said that the findings “suggest that fructose disrupts plasticity,” which means that new pathways between brain cells won’t be made.
And you need those new pathways and rewiring after a brain injury – especially a stroke – to walk, talk or even to remember what we had for breakfast.
27 pounds of HFCS a year
Considering how much HFCS Americans are consuming, which was 27 pounds a year in 2014, it puts us all at risk, because a brain injury can happen to anyone.
And I’m not just talking about strokes. Even kids can suffer brain trauma from falling off a bike or skateboard.
This isn’t the first time Dr. Gomez-Pinilla has studied HFCS and how it affects the brain. And he must be a brave man – and a true scientist. Because the last time he dared to mention HFCS, the Corn Refiners Association, the lobbying group for the companies that make the sweetener, attacked both the doctor and the entire UCLA campus!
The group’s PR man called people all over the campus, faxing and emailing hundreds of pages of charts and pie graphs and links to its official website. It wanted the university to take out some mentions of HFCS and to put the word “sugar” first whenever the fake corn sweetener was mentioned.
But obviously, the research coming out of UCLA is much too important to allow a lobbying group, no matter how much money it may have, to interfere with. Previously, other UCLA researchers found that pancreatic cancers grow much more quickly when fueled by fructose. And that could also be the case in most every other kind of cancer as well.
While more research will certainly be done, I think we know enough right now to say that HFCS is just too dangerous to take any more chances with.
And, along with checking for HFCS on ingredient labels, you also have to watch out for crystalline fructose, and just plain fructose.
Don’t buy into the agave syrup myth, either. Despite the fact you can buy it in a health food store, it’s anything but healthy, being almost 100 percent pure fructose.
Remember, the brain you save could be your own – or that of someone you love.
“High-fructose diet hampers recovery from traumatic brain injury” Elaine Schmidt, October 2, 2015, UCLA Newsroom, newsroom.ucla.edu
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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