Too much fat in your diet can cause your brain to shrink, study warns

For a healthier brain tomorrow, start eating healthier today. Research shows that a high-fat diet doesn’t just make you fatter, it can also shrink your brain.

Australian scientists have established a clear link between a fatty food diet leading to diabetes and a deterioration in cognitive abilities as well as anxiety and depression. It also worsens any existing Alzheimer’s disease. Study authors say their research provides more evidence for the link between obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

“Obesity and diabetes impair the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline,” says study co-author Larisa Bobrovskaya, a neuroscientist and biochemist from the University of South Australia, in a statement. “We demonstrated this in our findings.”

In their study, mice were randomly allocated to a standard diet or a high-fat diet for 30 weeks, starting at eight weeks of age. Food intake, body weight and glucose levels were monitored at different intervals, along with glucose and insulin tolerance tests and cognitive dysfunction.

The mice on the high-fat diet gained a lot of weight, developed insulin resistance and started behaving abnormally compared to those fed a standard diet. Genetically modified Alzheimer’s disease mice showed a significant deterioration of cognition and pathological changes in the brain while fed the high fat diet.

Mice with impaired cognitive function were also more likely to gain excessive weight due to poor metabolism caused by brain changes.

Alzheimer’s disease is predicted to reach 100 million cases worldwide by 2050.

“Obese individuals have about a 55 per cent increased risk of developing depression, and diabetes will double that risk,” says Bobrovskaya. “Our findings underline the importance of addressing the global obesity epidemic. A combination of obesity, age and diabetes is very likely to lead to a decline in cognitive abilities, Alzheimer’s disease and other mental health disorders.”

The study is published in the journal Metabolic Brain Disease.

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