Does fatty food cause mental health issues?
A recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry has found that excess fatty intake can affect the cognitive function of brains. This study was conducted in mice, and found that diets rich in fat reduce levels of an important protein called reelin that helps synapses in the brain signal to one another, resulting in possible cognitive and psychiatric issues. Reelin deficiency is also a feature of brain disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers saw changes as early as four weeks into the experiments, after the mice had been fed high-fat diets. The cognitive results were evident even before the animals started gaining weight. Interestingly, the results were only seen in mice that were adolescent and not fully adult mice.
The changes were mostly evident in the prefontal cortex of the mice, in humans, this is associated with decision making, expressing personality and controlling social behaviour. With the supposed drop in the quality of diets over the past few decades, this study has found some worrying results. Furthermore, the study found the results to be particularly pronounced in adolescent mice, in humans this is a period where people will start to make their own decisions about food, especially with increased calorific needs, the researchers have suggested that more education must therefore be provided about the potential pitfalls in choosing high fat diets.