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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
 
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was the first person to acknowledge that the food we eat has a direct effect on our health. Now, over 2000 years after his death, we are beginning to understand how right he was. In a new study carried out at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), rats fed a high-fructose diet for just six weeks were less able to learn and retain information. They found it tougher to negotiate a maze with just one exit. The rats had been fed high-fructose corn oil, a ubiquitous ingredient in processed drinks and foods churned out by the food industry, particularly in the United States (US).

This is perhaps one of the most direct demonstrations that an ever-present foodstuff has the potential of affecting the way we think. Fructose is the sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and is the favored sweetener of the food and drink industry worldwide. Our consumption of it has risen exponentially from the modest levels associated with seasonal fruits to an average yearly per capita consumption in the US of more than 45 kilograms of refined sugar, over half of which is fructose. The rest of the world is not far behind.

Fructose is problematic, because unlike glucose, its consumption does not elicit the body's appropriate hormonal response to eating. It actually suppresses the effect of insulin and the brain chemicals that signal we are full and no longer hungry. And, therein lies the problem. Insulin affects the brain by controlling the blood levels of its primary fuel, glucose. Insulin receptors are also richly distributed throughout some areas of the brain, including those associated with regulating food intake and cognitive function.

A quick scan through the research journals shows that the latest study is not on its own in pointing a finger at fructose. At the end of last year, Dr. Xingwang Ye and colleagues from Tufts University in Boston reported in the British Journal of Nutrition that the level of habitual sugar intake in non-diabetic participants aged over 45 was inversely related to memory and cognitive performance. And in March and April this year, a series of separate studies showed that insulin resistance is associated with greater cognitive decline and reduced brain volume in non-diabetic older people.

Pretty much all of the evidence in this area relates to older adults, whether we might see the same effects in younger people is an open question, since high levels of fructose are unlikely to have detrimental effects in the short term. Even the six weeks of fructose consumption that damaged the brains of the rats in the UCLA experiment would equate to several years in human terms. Fructose is not the only problematic component in our contemporary diet. There are plenty of studies showing that consuming high levels of bad saturated fats, found primarily as meat and dairy animal fats and as a range of oils added to processed food, also predispose us to poorer mental function later in life.

The UCLA research did offer one crumb of comfort. When fed a slightly healthier diet with more omega-3 fatty acids, the effect of fructose on the rat's brains was reduced. There is also a lot of research showing that a diet close to that enjoyed by our ancestors in evolutionary terms, for instance, the so-called `Mediterranean diet' typified by lots of natural fruit, vegetables and legumes, can protect against natural cognitive decline as we get older. So, if you hope to retain your intelligence into old age, you could do worse than follow Hippocrates's adage "let food be thy medicine".

     
  1. Hippocrates is regarded as the father of modern medicine because of his discovery on how our health is affected by the food we eat.
       
    (A) True
    (B) False
    (C) Not stated
       
  2. The consumption of fructose has increased drastically in the US due to its abundant supply.
       
    (A) True
    (B) False
    (C) Not stated
       
  3. All processed food in the US contain high-fructose corn oil.
       
    (A) True
    (B) False
    (C) Not stated
       
  4. According to the writer, fructose is harmful because it
       
    (A) affects the production of insulin
    (B) increases the glucose level of non-diabetics
    (C) disrupts the common hormonal reaction to eating
       
  5. The effects of high fructose intake were not conclusive because
       
    (A) there were too few studies carried out
    (B) the studies involved only non-diabetic people
    (C) the experiments were only conducted on older adults
       
  6. The phrase on crumb of comfort, is used by the writer to
       
    (A) express hope
    (B) justify an action
    (C) support the research findings
       
  7. The advice let food be thy medicine suggests that
       
    (A) we should follow a healthy diet
    (B) modern medicine is very effective
    (C) food intake and intelligence are interrelated
       
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  Answers : Not provided
 
 
 
 

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