Another reason to make fatty foods a rare part of your diet. Sure they taste great, and it’s oh-so-easy to eat more than you planned, but we’re learning more and more just how bad these tasty fats are. Bad for your heart. Bad for your waistline. And now, bad for your brain too.
A new study has found that fat laden foods might do damage to the part of the brain that’s responsible for regulating your appetite. This may account for why overweight people have so much trouble sticking to a diet plan. The findings were announced at the British Science Festival and strongly suggest that lots of saturated
fat in the diet damages the hypothalamus, and may directly impact how well you’re able to stick to a diet. It may also explain, in part, why obese people have so much trouble keeping the weight off long term.
The hypothalamus is a tiny area at the base of the brain that has neurons that control not just what we eat, but how much energy we expend explains Lynda Williams of the Rowett Institute for Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen. The control breaks down when faced with obesity, but no one yet understands why this happens. To get an answer, the team of researchers used a strain of mice that easily put on weight and fed half a high fat die, the other half a normal low-fat one.
The researchers saw that genes and proteins changed with the high fat diet, and these changes are normally associated with damage in the brain. This supports the conclusion that mice that ate a diet high in saturated fat had damaged the hypothalamus. What’s more, the changes came quickly, three days for proteins to be affected, a week for visible signs of disruption of the genes to be visible.
Even though the study was conducted on mice, researchers believe the same processes are happening in human brains as well. And while the effects might be exaggerated in the mice, due to the saturated fat content of what they were eating, the findings still sound a warning. Too many fatty foods may well affect your brain.
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How Foods Can Harm Your Brain Continued…
More work will need to be done. Are the effects reversible? Watch for news on more work in the area. In the meantime, while you know that a high fat diet over a long period isn’t good for you, the occasional unhealthy choice isn’t going to damage your brain. The key is to eat sensibly in the first place, make healthy food choices as often as you can to help you avoid, or reduce, excess weight gain. Everyone still deserves a treat now and then.
In another important study on diet and the brain, Dr. Gene Bowman from Oregon Health & Science University used a unique and inventive method for assessing the nutrient levels of subjects – blood tests for nutrients. He sampled 100 elderly but otherwise healthy white subjects living in Oregon and one of the most striking findings, despite the small sample size, was that those who ate a
diet high in trans fats were more likely to show shrinkage of the brain on MRI
scans, and score lower on tests of thinking and memory when compared to those who followed a healthy diet. That’s one with few trans fats and plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients naturally part of good for you foods.
It seems more and more people are getting the message about trans fats. Big cities like New York have banned restaurants from featuring dishes with lots of trans fats. Major food makers have tried to remove them from products, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.
To your good health,