By: Mayer Schmukler, Health Coach and Melissa A. Kay
Kids these days are consuming more sugar than ever. Often in the form of fructose which is sugar derived from honey and fruit. Sounds innocent enough, but too much fructose can be causing damage to children’s developing brains. Something that is far from sweet. When fructose is consumed right from the source, that’s not the real issue. There are fiber and enzymes that have nutritional value. But when it’s used to sweeten other foods, the heavy sugar concentration is more difficult for the liver to process…more so than cane sugar. In addition, fructose does not trigger insulin release as glucose does. This confuses the brain by not signaling that the person is full after consuming fructose-containing foods and beverages. People are more likely to overeat, leading to weight gain.
ADHD and Fructose
According to UCLA Newsroom, “A range of diseases (including) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — are linked to changes to genes in the brain. A new study by UCLA life scientists has found that hundreds of those genes can be damaged by fructose, a sugar that’s common in the Western diet, in a way that could lead to those diseases.”
Fructose is generally added to foods sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup. Take a look on the supermarket shelves or even in your own pantry and you’re sure to find products containing the common sweetener. Dr. Weil explains, “High-fructose corn syrup is used to sweeten soft drinks and is found in a wide variety of processed foods, including salad dressings, and ketchup, jams, jellies, ice cream and more.” UCLA Newsroom even notes how fructose is “found in most baby food,” meaning our kids are getting filled with this ingredient from an early start.
The UCLA life scientists conducted a study to learn the effects of fructose in rats’ brains to assess how fructose could alter the human brain. 200 genes that help regulate memory and learning were identified. It was found that fructose affected these genes, potentially contributing to a variety of brain diseases. UCLA Newsroom reported, “Previous research found that fructose damages communication between brain cells and increases toxic molecules in the brain; and that a long-term high-fructose diet diminishes the brain’s ability to learn and remember information.”
Schoolwork Can Suffer
Therefore, schoolwork can be affected. As per Learning Liftoff, “When people consume a lot of sugar and then attempt challenging tasks, like math problems, the brain’s hypothalamus allows the body to release a lot of cortisol. Known as the stress hormone, this substance impedes memory. When children’s bodies are flooded with cortisol at school, they struggle to pay attention to their lessons and find it difficult to sit quietly. When their attention is elsewhere, they find it difficult to retain information they’re taught.”
There’s also the issue of hyperactivity. Added sugars that kids don’t need in their diets makes them more wired and wound-up than they may already be naturally. And when the extra energy wears off, they crash and burn. It’s a vicious cycle that keeps them craving more fructose. And we often give it to them starting at breakfast, with super sugary cereals, fruit punches, and ready-to-eat breakfast pastries. As VeryWell Mind notes, “In the brain, excess sugar impairs both our cognitive skills and our self-control (having a little sugar stimulates a craving for more).”
Brain issues are big ones, but high-fructose corn syrup can do even more damage to kids’ bodies. As per Dr. Weil, “Aside from its potential problems with thinking and memory, high-fructose corn syrup has well-known adverse effects on other aspects of health. It promotes obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, and disturbs liver function.”
Parents are responsible to make sure their children’s diets are healthful. Avoid foods and beverages with added sugars like fructose. Going all-natural is always a solid solution.
For more information like this, please visit All My Children’s blogs.