Why high fat adds up to high Alzheimer’s risk

Alzheimer’s is a scary disease, sneaking in to steal your memories and eventually your life.

And unfortunately, modern medicine is still trying to catch up. Their latest attempts, despite FDA approvals, leave much to be desired as both lecanemab and donanemab are linked to swelling and bleeding on the brain.

Luckily, research continues to arm us with easy dietary do’s and don’ts we can put to work to reduce our risks — including the Mediterranean diet, full of nutrients that cross the blood-brain barrier that have been seen in the blood work of super-agers, and foods like blueberries that improved brains in just 6 months.

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On the other hand, they’ve warned us against canola, the oil that cooks up Alzheimer’s, and the sugar that supercharges brain inflammation.

Now, there’s one more recommendation researchers have backed up with proof.

Diets high in saturated fats are a no-go if you want to keep your brain sharp and ward off dementia.

Here’s what you need to know…

Fats and your RNA

Previous studies in mice had demonstrated that after a diet high in saturated fats the mice developed Alzheimer’s much earlier than mice on a conventional diet. However, no one knew exactly why.

This led a group of scientists in Spain to set out to find the mechanism behind the damage.

Specifically, the team zeroed in on the expression of 15 miRNAs, small molecules of RNA related to insulin that play a crucial role in genetic regulation in both plasma and brain tissues.

After feeding mice a high-fat diet for six months, they discovered that not only did their body weight increase significantly, but their response to glucose and insulin decreased dramatically.

Both of these changes are ones you would expect to find in people with obesity or type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, they found that significant changes occurred in the various miRNAs in both the blood and the brain. These changes were related to processes that can cause brain damage, including:

  • The accumulation of β-amyloid plaques (protein deposits that form in the brain and which are markers of Alzheimer’s);
  • Excessive production of the tau protein (which can damage brain cells when it gets out of control);
  • And inflammation in the brain.

In other words, just six months of saturated fats led to Alzheimer’s-like changes in the brain.

When asked about the research, lead author Mònica Bulló had this to say, “The results of this study are a step forward in our understanding of this disease and may explain the relationship between obesity, type 2 diabetes and the onset of Alzheimer’s. The findings also offer new targets for the possible prevention and treatment of the disease.”

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Switch to brain-supporting fats

Saturated fat is considered an unhealthy fat — and that should come as no surprise after what we just read.

Foods that are high in saturated fats include red meat, cheese, butter and other full-fat dairy foods and pre-packaged baked goods, like snack cakes.

So if supporting your brain health is top of mind, those are foods you should eat less of. And maybe while you transition to a more brain-friendly diet, take a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) daily — straight up, or like I do — on a piece of toast, instead of butter.  

EVOO is an unsaturated fat, and Harvard researchers found that consuming at least 7 grams of olive oil every day was associated with a 28 percent lower risk of dementia-related death compared with those who never or rarely consumed olive oil.

In fact, replacing around 1.2 teaspoons of margarine or mayonnaise with olive oil daily was linked with an 8 to 14 percent lower risk of death from dementia. 

Olive oil is also loaded with phenolic compounds that combat the oxidative stress and inflammation that kicks off insulin resistance and can ultimately lead to type 2 diabetes.

Olive oil has been shown up to stand up to to heat to retain it’s nutritional magic, so it’s a good option to cook with as well.

Other healthy unsaturated fat options include fish, like salmon, and nuts and seeds.

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Researchers discover the mechanism that links a diet rich in fats with Alzheimer’s disease – EurekAlert!

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.