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Is fructose associated with ADHD, neurodevelopmental disorders?

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Researchers are learning how fructose-rich diets are associated with impulsivity and aggression.Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images
  • Mass consumption of fructose can stimulate impulsivity and aggression, as well as behavior similar to the animal’s foraging response.
  • Fructose is an energy source. However, in many animals, it also causes a foraging response, similar to what happens with starvation.
  • Many of the behaviors seen in the foraging response resemble the symptoms of ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Food has a long history of being used to change our minds.

Caffeine that enhances our mental arousal. Foods such as macaroni and cheese and deep-dish pizzas are a pleasant meal after an emotionally tired day. And fresh salads can only be available when we are in a dull mood.

On the contrary, what we eat can also have a negative effect on our mood. Think of a hangover after a party, a morning fog before caffeine, and a sugar crush at midnight.

Chronically, diet can contribute to symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

lots of people the study We have found a link between diet, especially sugar and the behaviors seen in these conditions, but the reason for the link is unclear.

A group of researchers at the University of Colorado suggest that the answer may be in the past of our evolution.

In a paper published in the journal on October 16th Evolution and human behavior, Researchers outline the possible role of fructose, a type of sugar in fruits and honey, in increasing the likelihood of these neurodevelopmental disorders.

Fructose is an energy source. However, in many animals, it also causes a foraging response, similar to what happens with starvation. This response helps animals build energy storage before hibernation and long-distance travel.

Foraging involves actions that help find new sources of food and water — taking risks, impulsivity, increased movement, rapid processing of information that pays less attention to detail, and sometimes. Aggression.

The authors of the new paper write that many of the behaviors seen in the foraging response resemble the symptoms of ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other disorders.

They also point out that these conditions have increased among the population in parallel with the rate of obesity, in parallel with the increase in sugar intake over the past century.

Fructose is relatively rare in nature, but it is very common in modern food environments and appears in many processed foods and beverages as refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup.

According to one citizen, in 2010, Americans consumed almost 15% of their calories in the form of sugar. Investigation.. In some groups, added sugar accounted for 25% of caloric intake.

A few the study In mice, a high-salt diet (another aspect of the modern diet) has also been found to stimulate the body to produce its own fructose.

Dr. Shebani Seti DalaiObesity and psychiatry doctors at Stanford University, who were not involved in the new study, agree that a diet can affect our mental health.

“There is a mismatch between our modern lifestyle and the potential of our ancestors, or our genes,” she said. “That’s why I think we’re seeing more illnesses today than before.”

Parallel increases in processed food intake and certain neurodevelopmental disorders have not been proven to be due to sugar, but some studies have shown that excess sugar stimulates foraging-like behaviors. We support the idea that there is a possibility.

In one InvestigationThose who scored higher on the ADHD test tended to show more exploratory foraging patterns.

In adolescence, eating sweet soft drinks Aggressive behavior, As there are high levels of urine uric acid — A molecule produced when the body breaks down fructose.

Other the studyHowever, no association was found between children’s sugar consumption and the development of ADHD.

Mixed studies to date may be due to genetics and other factors that influence how different people react to sugar.

A few researcher It also suggests that short-term studies may not show the effects of ADHD, which may be a chronic response to a high-carbohydrate diet.

Sethi Dalai states that several mechanisms have been proposed as sugar and super-processed foods can exacerbate the symptoms of mood disorders and psychosis. inflammation Or oxidative stress in the brain.

“Some of the medicines for [mood disorders] It can lead to metabolic side effects, “she adds. “This includes raising blood sugar levels and putting someone in the category of higher weight gain or prediabetes.”

Further research is needed to fully understand the link between diet and ADHD, bipolar disorder, or aggressive behavior, he said. Dr. Richard Johnson, The lead author of the Evolution and Human Behavior paper.

He wants to see a randomized controlled trial in which people with these symptoms eat a diet low in sugar and high in fructose corn syrup for at least 8-12 weeks.

They are compared to control people who ate a normal diet to see if low sugar intake improves the patient’s symptoms.

However, “there is already good evidence that reducing sugar intake is good not only for mental and behavioral health, but also for the overall health of sugar drinks in particular,” Johnson said.

Sethi Dalai agrees. She uses a ketogenic diet for many patients with bipolar disorder.

“Clinically, we’ve seen it improve the symptoms of many patients and even reduce their dosage to some extent,” she said.

The· Ketogenic dietThe ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that can help people lose weight and is being studied as a treatment for diabetes and other metabolic conditions.

It has been used for many years as a way to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy.

However, research into the benefits of this diet for bipolar disorder is just beginning.

Sethi Dalai is currently recruiting patients for pilots Clinical trial Find out if a ketogenic diet can improve symptoms and metabolic measurements in patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

A healthier diet, as well as how sugar affects people differently, may also help people in mental health to varying degrees. For many, it is not a substitute for treatment.

“It would be a big leap to say that you can cure bipolar disorder. [disorder] On a ketogenic diet, “said Setidarai.

“For some patients [diet] It may be used in place of medicine. But for the vast majority of patients, I think the drug still plays a role. “

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