JUL 13, 2022 9:30 AM PDT

Does a High-fat Diet Shrink the Brain?

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Charron

A study published in Metabolic Brain Disease found an association between high-fat diets and several health diseases. In particular, the study found that high-fat diets fed to mice caused a reduction in brain mass. The international team of scientists found that a high-fat diet fed to rats for 30 weeks resulted in both diabetes and cognitive deterioration. Fatty-rich diets were also associated with developing anxiety and depression, and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, mice with cognitive dysfunction were more likely to become obese since the brain changes negatively impacted metabolism. 

The mice were randomly allocated to a standard diet or a high-fat diet for 30 weeks. This diet started at eight weeks of age, and the researchers monitored nutritional intake, body weight, and glucose levels at different intervals. They also conducted a comprehensive behavioral test battery to assess anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. They found that mice on the high-fat diet gained weight, became insulin resistant, and demonstrated abnormal behavior compared to those fed a standard diet.

A high fat diet is characterized by a nutrition plan with at least 35 percent of the total consumed calories consisting of both saturated and unsaturated fat. Some people who maintain high fat diets claim there are benefits such as effective weight management and enhanced digestion, but a high-fat diet has significant risks as demonstrated in this study. 

This study contributes to the growing body of evidence linking chronic obesity and diabetes with Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroscientist and professor Dr. Larisa Bobrovskaya explained that “obesity and diabetes impair the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline.” The findings highlight that the combination of aging, obesity and diabetes increases the risk of developing depression and other metabolic and psychiatric disorders. Cases of this type of comorbidity are predicted to reach 100 million cases by 2050.  

Sources: Metabolic Brain Disease, Neuroscience News

 

About the Author
BA and MA in English, MPS in Human Relations, and Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration
Kerry Charron writes about medical cannabis research. She has experience working in a Florida cultivation center and has participated in advocacy efforts for medical cannabis.
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