Fat and sugar may cause a decrease in cognitive function

Fat and sugar may cause a decrease in cognitive function
Fat and sugar may cause a decrease in cognitive function

Eating too much fat and sugar is well known as being poor for your physical health due to an increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. It is now believed that consumption of fat and sugar may also increase the risk for cognitive decline. Oregon State University reported, fat and sugar cause bacterial changes which may be associated with loss of cognitive function.

Researchers at Oregon State University have found evidence that both a high-fat and a high-sugar diet in comparison to a normal diet may cause changes in gut bacteria which appear to be associated with a significant loss of what has been termed cognitive flexibility or the power to adapt and adjust to new situations. It was observed that this effect was most serious when on a high-sugar diet. It was also observed that there was an impairment of early learning dealing with both long-term and short-term memory.

This research was done on laboratory mice who consumed different diets and then were confronted with a variety of tests. Such tests as water maze testing were used to monitor alterations in their mental and physical function. The associated impacts on various kinds of bacteria were also studied. This has lead Kathy Magnusson, a professor at the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and primary investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, to comment that it has become clear that our gut bacteria, or microbiota, can communicate with the human brain. Compounds which act as neurotransmitters stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system and affect a wide range of biological functions are released by bacteria.

In this study after just four weeks on a high-fat or a high-sugar diet it was observed that the performance of mice on several tests of mental and physical function began to decrease in comparison to animals that are on a normal diet. The most significant changes were seen in cognitive flexibility. It was observed in this study that the impairment of cognitive flexibility was relatively strong with a diet high in fat and sugar.

This study has been published in the journal Neuroscience. Relationships were studied which exist between diet associated changes in the gut microbiome and cognitive flexibility. There has been increasing evidence that changing the microbiome can influence the brain and behavior. There is a high fat and sucrose content in Western diets. The results of the study show that alterations in the microbiome may contribute to negative cognitive changes which are associated with eating a Western diet. Clearly, it’s a good idea to adhere to low sugar and low fat diets for good health in body and mind.


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