Image: Janet Morgan
A diet rich in red meat, saturated fat and refined grains is linked to cognitive decline and neurodegeneration in a mouse study published in the journal Cell.
The study, conducted by neuroscientists from Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, examined the cognitive function of mice fed a Western diet.
The mice were fed a diet rich in red meat, saturated fat and refined grains.
The study authors say that the mouse model fits perfectly with the human eating patterns, showing clear differences in the way mice metabolize glycemic load and brain functions when fed a Western diet.
Cognitive decline in mice fed a diet high in saturated fat and saturated-animal fat is common, the study found.
The information could help in the development of better treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, the authors say.
“This raises the possibility that decreasing the glycemic load and glycemic resistance of the brain could reduce the risk of cognitive decline,” they write.
Reducing the glycemic load of the brain could reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Reducing the glycemic load of the brain could reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
The Western diet has been linked to diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure and heart disease – all known triggers of neurological and cognitive dysfunction.
It contains a high calorie diet, relatively high levels of fat, white carbohydrates and high levels of fiber.
Most doctors say that any form of rich, high-fat and low-fiber diet increases risk of chronic disease.
The authors say that their research reveals that higher intakes of fructose, carbohydrates and low-fiber fuel (e.g. rice and cereal) contribute to the decline in cognitive function and cellular stress experienced by the brain.
The researchers also showed that hyperglycemia also reduces brain volume, which they say could increase the chances of other cognitive declines as well.
The protein C-reactive protein (CRP) was also found to contribute to the aging process and that replacing it in the diet lowered the risk of hyperglycemia.
The author of the study, Dr. Janet Morgan, of the department of neuroscience, said:
“We wanted to know whether changing a low-fiber, high-sugar Western diet – a diet widely consumed in our society – could slow or prevent the decline in cognitive function and cell death seen in old age in old mice. Our findings suggest that changes in diet, particularly in diet inputs – such as removing sugary and low-fiber grain foods – may help slow cognitive decline in old age.”
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