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High-Fat Diet May Inhibit Brain Function

High-Fat Diet May Inhibit Brain Function

New study reveals that a high-fat diet could impact adolescents

A new study conducted in Spain suggests that a high-fat diet could have long-term effects on adolescents’ memory and learning capabilities.

While it has previously been acknowledged that healthy, monounsaturated fats can have a positive impact on brain functions, the claims scientists are making at a Madrid university are alarming for a different reason.

The study observed three groups of mice: adolescent mice fed on a high-fat diet; adolescent mice on a control diet of equal caloric intake, but lower in fats; and adult mice on the same high-fat diet as the adolescents.

The high-fat fed adolescents suffered considerably impaired spatial memory compared to the other two groups. Researchers suspect that adolescents may be more susceptible to these fats due to the number of hormonal processes they are undergoing.

Furthermore, the damage appeared long lasting, if not permanent, as the detrimental effects persisted even after the mice were taken off the damaging diet.


Brain Cancer and The Ketogenic Diet: What You Need to Know

The ketogenic diet isn’t just for weight loss. In fact, the keto diet began as a nutritional treatment for children with epilepsy in the early 20th century. Now, doctors and researchers are looking at this super low-carb diet to help battle other diseases and conditions.

And one of the better-studied ones is brain cancer.

Normal brain cells can survive on ketones, but most cancer cells can’t.

This insight has led to an interest in ketosis and the keto diet from neuro doctors, scientists, and brain cancer patients.

Learn what current evidence says about the effects of a ketogenic diet on brain cancer, including whether keto can help prevent or treat brain tumors.


10 Keto Recipes That Are Full of Fat (and That’s a Good Thing)

First it was gluten-free, then it was Paleo, and now it&rsquos all about that keto life. Haven&rsquot heard of it yet?

We&rsquore still getting our feet wet when it comes to this trendy way of eating, so we asked Mark Sisson &mdash the keto and health expert behind Mark&rsquos Daily Apple, bestselling author of &ldquoThe Primal Blueprint,&rdquo and founder of Primal Kitchen &mdash to be our featured foodie for this article.

He&rsquos sharing 10 of his favorite keto recipes and why he thinks eating a million avocados per day high fat, low carb diet is good for your health.

Let&rsquos get straight to the point. &ldquoA ketogenic diet is under 10 percent energy (calories) from carbohydrates, 10 to 30 percent from protein, and the rest from fat,&rdquo says Sisson. Shilpa J, et al. (2018). Ketogenic diets: Boon or bane? DOI: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1666_18

We know what you&rsquore thinking: another low carb diet? But Sisson breaks down the science so it makes sense: When we decrease our carb intake, the way we process fat changes.

For fats to turn into energy (you know, so our bodies can function), they need to bind with a compound called oxaloacetate that comes from carbs.

When we aren&rsquot eating any carbs, we don&rsquot have enough of that compound to pair with fat. So what do our bodies do to prevent us from accumulating fat?

The liver converts the &ldquoextra&rdquo fatty acids to ketones &mdash an alternative fuel source the muscles and brain can use. This is ketosis. And it&rsquos why the keto diet is all the rage, because eating fat can help burn fat. Masood W, et al. (2019). Ketogenic diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/

Sisson shares a few more benefits of the keto diet:

  • Memory: Can&rsquot remember where you parked your car in the grocery store lot? Keto diets are believed to improve cognitive function in people having difficulty with memory loss. Taylor MK, et al. (2017). Feasibility and efficacy data from a ketogenic diet intervention in Alzheimer&rsquos disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021549/
  • Sports performance: Avid runner or cyclist? Eating a keto-friendly diet may help you burn fat for fuel before tapping out on glycogen. Chang CK, et al. (2017). Low-carbohydrate-high-fat diet: Can it help exercise performance? DOI: 10.1515/hukin-2017-0025
  • Weight loss: Trying to lose a few pounds before the wedding/reunion/pool party? Research says following a ketogenic diet helps with weight loss. Paoli A. (2014). Ketogenic diet for obesity: Friend or foe? DOI: 10.3390/ijerph110202092

But it ain&rsquot easy in the beginning (the one thing it has in common with all other diets).

&ldquoMost people experience the &lsquoketo flu&rsquo or &lsquolow carb flu&rsquo for the first week or two of a ketogenic diet,&rdquo Sisson says.

He confirms most people complain about lower energy levels, headaches, and poor mental and physical performance early on, but eventually, that fog will lift.

If you&rsquore ready to start experimenting, try Sisson&rsquos favorite keto recipes: his signature big-ass keto salad, beef kebabs, bison chili, fat bombs, and more. We&rsquore jumping on the keto bandwagon because these look to die for.


Researchers find a western-style diet can impair brain function

Consuming a western diet for as little as one week can subtly impair brain function and encourage slim and otherwise healthy young people to overeat, scientists claim.

Researchers found that after seven days on a high saturated fat, high added sugar diet, volunteers in their 20s scored worse on memory tests and found junk food more desirable immediately after they had finished a meal.

The finding suggests that a western diet makes it harder for people to regulate their appetite, and points to disruption in a brain region called the hippocampus as the possible cause.

“After a week on a western-style diet, palatable food such as snacks and chocolate becomes more desirable when you are full,” said Richard Stevenson, a professor of psychology at Macquarie University in Sydney. “This will make it harder to resist, leading you to eat more, which in turn generates more damage to the hippocampus and a vicious cycle of overeating.”

Previous work in animals has shown that junk food impairs the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and appetite control. It is unclear why, but one idea is that the hippocampus normally blocks or weakens memories about food when we are full, so looking at a cake does not flood the mind with memories of how nice cake can be. “When the hippocampus functions less efficiently, you do get this flood of memories, and so food is more appealing,” Stevenson said.

To investigate how the western diet affects humans, the scientists recruited 110 lean and healthy students, aged 20 to 23, who generally ate a good diet. Half were randomly assigned to a control group who ate their normal diet for a week. The other half were put on a high energy western-style diet, which featured a generous intake of Belgian waffles and fast food.

What is the 'western-style diet'?

The western-style diet is characterised by the consumption of highly processed and refined foods, with high contents of sugars, salt, and fat and protein from red meat. Burgers, fast food, processed meat and ready meals are typical examples.

This style of diet has been identified as a major contributor to the development of obesity-related diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. The western-style diet has also been associated with an increased incidence of chronic kidney disease.

At the start and end of the week, the volunteers ate breakfast in the lab. Before and after the meal, they completed word memory tests and scored a range of high-sugar foods, such as Coco Pops, Frosties and Froot Loops, according to how much they wanted and then liked the foods on eating them.

“The more desirable people find the palatable food when full, following the western-style diet, the more impaired they were on the test of hippocampal function,” Stevenson said. The finding suggests that disruption of the hippocampus may underpin both, he added.

Stevenson believes that in time governments will come under pressure to impose restrictions on processed food, much as they did to deter smoking. “Demonstrating that processed foods can lead to subtle cognitive impairments that affect appetite and serve to promote overeating in otherwise healthy young people should be a worrying finding for everyone,” he said. The work is published in Royal Society Open Science.

In the longer term, eating a western-style diet contributes to obesity and diabetes, both of which have been linked to declines in brain performance and the risk of developing dementia. “The new thinking here is the realisation that a western-style diet may be generating initial and fairly subtle cognitive impairments, that undermine the control of appetite which gradually opens the way for all of these other effects down the track,” Stevenson said.

Rachel Batterham, professor of obesity, diabetes and endocrinology at University College London, who was not involved in the study, said it was one of the first to investigate whether the western diet impairs memory and appetite control in humans.

“Understanding the impact of a western diet on brain function is a matter of urgency given the current food climate,” she said. “This research has provided data to support detrimental effects on both memory and appetite control after just one week of an energy-dense diet and may suggest a link between poor diet and impairment of the hippocampus, a key memory and appetite-associated brain region. The mechanisms at work remain to be elucidated and will require further research with the application of more sophisticated neuroimaging methods.”

This article was amended on 26 February 2020 to clarify that the “high fat” levels involved in the study relate to saturated fat.


High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet May Improve Memory In Those At Risk Of Alzheimer's Disease: Study

There are several ways of keeping you cognition sharp from playing mind-teasing games to following a brain-boosting diet. The quality of diet has a huge impact on your cognitive abilities, as has been proven by numerous studies and scientific researches. Consuming foods linked with improved brain power may reduce risks of diseases like Alzheimer's. A new study has now suggested that consuming a low-carb Atkins-style diet may help improve brain function and memory in people at risk of Alzheimer's. The study indicated that a high-fat diet may help people having mild cognitive issues, which suggest an onset of Alzheimer's, which a condition that affects memory and other important mental functions. The condition cannot be cured, although the symptoms can be controlled.

The study titled, "Preliminary Report on the Feasibility and Efficacy of the Modified Atkins Diet for Treatment of Mild Cognitive Impairment and Early Alzheimer's Disease", was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease. The study was conducted by researchers from the John Hopkins Institute, on 14 adults with mild cognitive problems. The three-month study put the participants on restrictive diets for a period of three months. The participants were an average of 71 years of age and half of them were female. The researchers wanted to see if those with mild symptoms of Alzheimer's could benefit from the use of ketones instead of carbohydrates for energy or as fuel in the body. This is because previous research has shown that with those in early stages of Alzheimer's, the brain is unable to utilise glucose as an energy source.

The researchers found that those that followed a modified Atkins' Diet with high levels of fats and low levels of carbs showed small but measurable improvements on tests meant to evaluate their memory, as compared to those who followed a low-fat diet. The study report said, "In spite of extensive teaching, coaching, and monitoring, adherence to both diets was only fair. Among those in the MAD (Modified Atkins' Diet) arm who generated at least trace amounts of urinary ketones, there was a large (effect size= 0.53) and statistically significant (p=0.03) increase in Memory Composite Score between the baseline and week-6 assessment. MAD participants also reported increased energy between baseline and week-6 assessment. Despite challenges to implementing this trial, resulting in a small sample, our preliminary data suggest that the generation of even trace ketones might enhance episodic memory and patient-reported vitality in very early AD (Alzheimer's disease)."

(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)


Short-term high-fat feeding induces a reversible net decrease in synaptic AMPA receptors in the hypothalamus

Dietary obesity compromises brain function, but the effects of high-fat food on synaptic transmission in hypothalamic networks, as well as their potential reversibility, are yet to be fully characterized. We investigated the impact of high-fat feeding on a hallmark of synaptic plasticity, i.e., the expression of glutamatergic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid receptors (AMPARs) that contain the subunits GluA1 and GluA2, in hypothalamic and cortical synaptoneurosomes of male rats. In the main experiment (experiment 1), three days, but not one day of high-fat diet (HFD) decreased the levels of AMPAR GluA1 and GluA2 subunits, as well as GluA1 phosphorylation at Ser845, in hypothalamus but not cortex. In experiment 2, we compared the effects of the three-day HFD with those a three-day HFD followed by four recovery days of normal chow. This experiment corroborated the suppressive effect of high-fat feeding on hypothalamic but not cortical AMPAR GluA1, GluA2, and GluA1 phosphorylation at Ser845, and indicated that the effects are reversed by normal-chow feeding. High-fat feeding generally increased energy intake, body weight, and serum concentrations of insulin, leptin, free fatty acids, and corticosterone only the three-day HFD increased wakefulness assessed via video analysis. Results indicate a reversible down-regulation of hypothalamic glutamatergic synaptic strength in response to short-term high-fat feeding. Preceding the manifestation of obesity, this rapid change in glutamatergic neurotransmission may underlie counter-regulatory efforts to prevent excess body weight gain, and therefore, represent a new target of interventions to improve metabolic control.

Keywords: AMPA receptor signaling Cortex High-fat diet Hypothalamus Sleep/wakefulness Synaptic plasticity.


Eating a Diet High in Fat and Sugar Causes Brain Inflammation

Do you remember that the hippocampus is made out of two types of cells–neurons and glial cells? Because glial cells are very important to support the function of neurons, we wanted to know if glial cells were also affected by eating a high-fat-and-sugar diet. To do this, we stained two types of glial cells, called astrocytes and microglia, and studied their size and shape. Amazingly, we found that rats that ate the high-fat-and-sugar diet had astrocytes and microglia that were larger and had changed to a state that is called �tivated.” Astrocytes and microglia normally become activated by inflammation, in order to protect neurons from harm. You may be familiar with inflammation and how it looks in your body. Inflammation is a local response to injury or infection. Sometimes the inflamed body part becomes swollen, red, and painful. In the brain, inflammation may look and feel a little different than in other parts of the body, and glial cells are responsible for responding to inflammation in the brain and helping the neurons recover. When astrocytes become activated by inflammation, they multiply and become larger and darker (Figure 2 bottom half, right panel). When microglia gets activated, they also become larger and more branched. What was our conclusion? Our results showed us that eating a high-fat-and-sugar diet produced inflammation in the hippocampus, because astrocytes and microglia became activated in response to the harmful environment.


Conclusions and future directions

Diet, exercise and other aspects of our daily interaction with the environment have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. We now know that particular nutrients influence cognition by acting on molecular systems or cellular processes that are vital for maintaining cognitive function. This raises the exciting possibility that dietary manipulations are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities and protecting the brain from damage, promoting repair and counteracting the effects of aging. Emerging research indicates that the effects of diet on the brain are integrated with the actions of other lifestyle modalities, such as exercise (see BOX 2) and sleep 131 , 132 . The combined action of particular diets and exercise on the activation of molecular systems that are involved in synaptic plasticity has strong implications for public health and the design of therapeutic interventions. Owing to the encouraging results of clinical and preclinical studies that showed the beneficial effects of foods on the brain, the topic has attracted substantial media attention. Some of the information that has been conveyed has been hazy or exaggerated, and has contributed to people’s apprehension of taking advantage of scientific advances. As discussed, several dietary components have been found to have positive effects on cognition however, caution is required, as a balanced diet is still the stepping-stone for any dietary supplementation. By the same token, popular dietary prescriptions that might help to reduce weight do not necessarily benefit the physiology of the body or the mind.

Brain networks that are associated with the control of feeding are intimately associated with those that are involved in processing emotions, reward and cognition. A better understanding of how these networks interact will probably produce fundamental information for the development of strategies to reduce food addiction and obesity, a major social and economic burden in Western society. It is encouraging that modern psychiatry has started to appraise the implementation of some of these concepts for the treatment of various mental disorders. For example, a consensus report from the American Psychiatric Association’s Committee on Research on Psychiatric Treatments has provided general guiding principles for the use of omega-3 fatty acids for the treatment of mood disorders 80 .

The fact that dietary factors and other aspects of lifestyle have an effect on a long-term timescale contributes to an under-estimation of their importance for public health. Accordingly, the slow and imperceptible cognitive decay that characterizes normal aging is within the range-of-action of brain foods, such that successful aging is an achievable goal for dietary therapies. The capacity of diet to modulate cognitive abilities might have even longer-term implications in light of recent studies that imply that nutritional effects might be transmitted over generations by influencing epigenetic events. Research indicating that an excessive intake of calories might negate the positive effects of certain diets suggests that there is an undefined line between abundance of foods and neural health. Ironically, judging by the increasing rate of obesity in Western countries, which affects individual’s health and the economy as a whole, the excessive food intake in these wealthy nations seems to be almost as harmful as the lack of it in poor countries. It is intriguing that several countries with limited resources, such as India, have a reduced prevalence of neurological disorders that have been associated with diet, such as Alzheimer’s disease. This raises the concern of whether industrialized societies are consuming a balanced diet that takes into consideration appropriate numbers of calories as well as appropriate nutrients and adequate levels of exercise. Many practical questions regarding the design of diets to specifically improve brain function, such as type, frequency and amount of nutrients that constitute healthy brain food, remain to be answered, but we are beginning to uncover the basic principles that are involved in the actions of foods on the brain. Incorporating this knowledge into the design of novel treatments could be vital to combating mental diseases and neurological weaknesses.


What is GSK3B?

Glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta &mdash or just &ldquoGSK3&beta&rdquo for short &mdash is an enzyme that has been linked to many important functions throughout the body and brain, including energy metabolism, neuronal cell development, and the regulation of the immune system [1].

Some early research has also implicated GSK3B in the development or progression of various health conditions such as diabetes, inflammation, cancer, Alzheimer&rsquos and bipolar disorder [2].

Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK-3) acts as an essential &ldquobrake&rdquo on many growth-signaling pathways, including WNT and insulin. GSK-3 has high activity in resting tissues, and is inhibited upon cellular stimulation [3].


Essential fatty acids and human brain

The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. We've learned in recent years that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain's integrity and ability to perform. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are required for maintenance of optimal health but they can not synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. Clinical observation studies has related imbalance dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases. Most of the brain growth is completed by 5-6 years of age. The EFAs, particularly the omega-3 fatty acids, are important for brain development during both the fetal and postnatal period. Dietary decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is needed for the optimum functional maturation of the retina and visual cortex, with visual acuity and mental development seemingly improved by extra DHA. Beyond their important role in building the brain structure, EFAs, as messengers, are involved in the synthesis and functions of brain neurotransmitters, and in the molecules of the immune system. Neuronal membranes contain phospholipid pools that are the reservoirs for the synthesis of specific lipid messengers on neuronal stimulation or injury. These messengers in turn participate in signaling cascades that can either promote neuronal injury or neuroprotection. The goal of this review is to give a new understanding of how EFAs determine our brain's integrity and performance, and to recall the neuropsychiatric disorders that may be influenced by them. As we further unlock the mystery of how fatty acids affect the brain and better understand the brain's critical dependence on specific EFAs, correct intake of the appropriate diet or supplements becomes one of the tasks we undertake in pursuit of optimal wellness.