Turns out it might not be your laziness, stubbornness, or general God-given incompetence making you stupid: it could just be all the delicious high fructose corn syrup you eat.
Medical Xpress reports there is new evidence to suggest that eating a diet high in high-fructose corn syrup (the cheap, hyper-saccharine liquid sweetener found in many sodas and processed foods) for as little as six weeks could lead to long term memory and cognition problems.
You like Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets? They're makin' you dumb. You like Gushers, red and blue and all flavors, including "mystery?" They're makin' you dumb. You like Arizona Green Tea? It's makin' you dumb.
At least, that seems to be the case for rats, the humans of the rat world.
In a recent study out of UCLA, neurosurgeon Fernando Gomez-Pinilla measured the mental capacities of two groups of rats that had been fed a high fructose solution in the form of drinking water (delicious) for six weeks. One of the groups of rats was also made to consume omega-3 fatty acids, the cruel elementary school nickname for the good-for-you fats found in fish, nuts, and flaxseed oil. These are known to protect the brain's synapses from damages.
Synapses, like most things in your brain, are kind of important: they're where neurons join together to transmit messages between brain cells. Synapses enable the brain to learn new things and remember old ones. Synapses are things you definitely do not want to have destroyed by donuts.
If you eat a lot of foods with a high fructose content, though, yours might be in trouble. (LiveScience notes that the average American consumes more than 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)
Gomez-Pinilla's research team found that the rats who'd consumed the (healthy) fatty acids in addition to the sweetened solution were way better at remembering how to navigate a maze they'd been trained on a few weeks prior than the rats who spent their days all hopped up on sugary GoGo Juice, feeling laugh-y and play-y and ready to win pageeeaaaaaants.
Not only did those sugar-fiend rats trudge through the maze more slowly – their brains showed an overall decline in synaptic activity. Here's how Gomez-Pinilla explained it:
"Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats' ability to think clearly and recall the route they'd learned six weeks earlier."
The sweetner broke the rats' brains, you guys. It also started them on the path to diabetes, as testing revealed their bodies were already displaying a resistance to insulin.
Naturally, Professor Buzzkill's advice is to cut back on sweets and soda, and instead indulge in (or, anyway, choke down) fruits and yogurt.
Barring that, Gomez-Pinilla advises that just incorporating some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet "can help minimize the damage" caused by the candy crack you love.
Best part about that: you don't even have to eat fish, nuts, or flaxseed to get the benefits. Just pop a one gram omega-3 pill per day and you're good to go. Wash it down with a nice tall glass of corn syrup because, why not? You're healthy now.
(NOTE: While the fatty acids might save your brain, your body will still rot under the influence of all that sugar. Or maybe it will become a super human hyper-powerful body. Science is full of mysteries.)
The study was published in the May 15 issue of the Journal of Physiology.