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We’ve all heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” But how seriously do we take it?
Clearly, good nutrition is paramount to good physical. And, we’ve learned in the last several years that nourishing the brain could heal mental illness.
But how much damage can the wrong kind of food actually do?
A recent study has proven that a diet made up of the wrong foods doesn’t just lead to metabolic health conditions and weight gain — but can have a direct impact on cognitive decline and mental health…
Brain changes start with anxiety and lead to Alzheimer’s
The idea that diabetes and Alzheimer’s are connected is nothing new. In fact, many people refer to dementia and Alzheimer’s as “type 3 diabetes.”
And knowing that obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked to mood disorders, cognitive decline and dementia, researchers at the University of South Australia wondered what role a high-fat diet might play in this connection.
Dr. Larisa Bobrovskaya, a neuroscientist and biochemist at the University of South Australia, and her team used a mouse model to find out more about the intersection between diet and disease…
In their study, the team looked at adult mice with a mutation in the human tau protein known as P3011 (called pR5 in mice), along with a control group that did not have the mutation.
The two groups were fed either a regular or a high-fat diet for thirty weeks (because lab mice live for around 18 months, this represented a significant portion of their lives).
The control mice that ate a high-fat diet gained weight and exhibited more anxiety-like behaviors. They also showed higher levels of tau in the brain (tau is one of the proteins that lead to plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s).
But for the mice with the P3011 mutation, the consequences of a high-fat diet were even worse. They were even more vulnerable to obesity. They developed glucose intolerance and insulin resistance and had more depression and anxiety-like behaviors.
Their brains also showed more of those tell-tell “tau tangles.”
Eating to prevent anxiety, depression and Alzheimer’s
Dr. Bobrovskaya had this to say about their findings…
“Obesity and diabetes impair the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline. We demonstrated this in our study with mice.”
The lesson here seems clear: Living on ultra-processed foods made mainly of fats and sugars can put you on a road that begins with insulin resistance and leads to depression and anxiety and ends with Alzheimer’s.
Instead, why not make a shift to a diet that provides variety, nutrition, and proven benefits that go far beyond the health of your brain?
Yes, I’m talking about the Mediterranean diet.
It is a proven winner when it comes to weight loss. And research proves that the nutrients you’ll get from following a Mediterranean-style diet protect against cognitive decline and dementia, whatever your age.
But the number of meals you eat and their timing can make a major difference too…
If you’re considered pre-diabetic or even diabetic, you may have been advised to eat six small meals to prevent blood sugar from getting too high after meals and to stay fuller throughout the day. But it turns out, this may not be the best approach.
When you eat six meals, some of those meals are bound to be in the evening. Our biological clocks, however, prefer that we eat during the day. One study found that people eating by their biological clock saw improvements in weight and blood sugar and were able to reduce insulin under guidance from a doctor.
So, give up the processed foods and unhealthy fats, follow a healthy satiating diet and eat three meals a day — with the last being your lightest. It’s not hard to get started and give your brain a fighting chance.
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Long term high-fat diet expands waistline and shrinks brain — University of South Australia