A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning.
R Molteni, R.J Barnard, Z Ying, K Roberts, F Gómez-Pinilla
|Study Model||Animal - Rat|
Diet is a very important topic because not everyone takes supplements, but everyone eats. And based on the article we are going to talk about now it seems that what we eat has an impact on our cognitive performance.
In the article titled “A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning” (link) Molteni et al shows the impact of high fat, high refined sugar (HFS) diet on neuronal plasticity and learning mediated by BDNF protein.
The results of the study showed that higher BDNF levels were associated with faster learning, measured as a water maze test comparing animals on HFS diet and LFCC diet (low-fat complex carbohydrate). Interestingly, rats in a ‘western diet’ group performed worse at all time points, from childhood to adulthood – that includes timepoints before any age-related diseases could be blamed for worse mental performance or obesity, as even at time points when HFS animals were within the healthy weight limit they still couldn’t match the performance of the LFCC diet group.
What that means is that obesity itself can’t be blamed for lower BDNF levels and worse cognitive performance, but rather it’s the mix of saturated fat and refined sugar, which leads to lower BDNF levels and reduced neuronal plasticity.
Could it be because of increased oxidative stress on HFS diet? Insulin spikes and ‘mental fog’ caused by sugar spikes? What’s your take on this?
Dr Bart Alright