Scientists Share Tips to Restore Impaired Memory
While it has been known that fatty foods in combination with sweet drinks can contribute to memory loss, new, promising research by a Swedish scientific crew has indicated that it is possible to treat the impairment with a healthier diet.
New research published by Lund University in southern Sweden has indicated that wholesome portions may undo some of the damage previously inflicted by obesity and related conditions.
Links between obesity, type 2 diabetes and memory changes have previously been observed in both humans and animals such as mice. The goal of the study was thus to gain a greater understanding of the processes that occur in the brain during type 2 diabetes. But in the process of the experiment performed on mice, it turned out that the diet itself had a greater impact than previously thought.
The mice that were put on a diet rich in fat and sugar showed changes in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex – the parts of the brain involved in storing and controlling memories. The researchers regularly measured metabolites levels in the brain, a type of breakdown product which indicates brain activity and cell death.
At the same time, numerous behavioural experiments were performed to study the mice's memory ability in practice. The mice that were on a high-fat, sugary diet performed more poorly than the control group in terms of memory. However, the ability was shown to be restored in the mice that later switched to a healthier diet.
“What we saw was that there are changes in metabolism and function, but that it was possible to return to the original state again. The study proves that the brain is pliant when it comes to the effects of diet. For us, it feels like a positive result and an additional reason to eat healthy,” João Duarte, a researcher of diabetes and brain function at Lund University, told national broadcaster SVT.
He found it surprising and remarkable that mice had the same memory impairment regardless of the degree of diabetes. This, according to researchers, may mean that the disease may not be the most important factor and that the diet itself plays a major role in and of itself.
However, research on mice has its limitations and it is not certain that the results are fully transferable to humans. Nevertheless, the findings may be important in the future.
“It is part of understanding how the brain responds to and adapts to diabetes, obesity and a certain diet in order to be able to find ways to prevent cognitive impairment”, João Duarte explained.
According to Olov Rolandsson, a professor and chief physician at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University, the study is promising and more follow-up research is needed, both on mice and humans.
“That the changes caused by the diet can be reversible is a positive finding, provided that it can then be shown that it also applies to humans”, Olov Rolandsson concluded.
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