Good high fat diet may postpone brain aging

Good high fat diet may postpone brain aging

Not all fats are bad. Some fats can actually contribute to healthy living. According to a Danish study, signs of brain aging can be postponed with a high-fat diet. These findings may lead to new ways to treat children with premature aging, and persons with Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s.

As we age, our brains tend to lose some of its power and capacity, and the risks of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease increase. Alzheimer’s is now the fastest growing age-related disease.

It is important to keep our DNA undamaged throughout our lives, which is why our cells have a system repair damage that occurs over time. Humans show signs of aging when this damage repair system stops working. In diseases such as Alzheimer’s, damage to the DNA even occurs.

A study led by Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health observed mice that had damage in their DNA repair systems. In people, this condition can cause Cockayne syndrome, where people age prematurely and die at a very young age.

The study is good news for children with Cockayne syndrome, because we do not currently have an effective treatment. Our study suggests that a high-fat diet can postpone aging processes. A diet high in fat also seems to postpone the aging of the brain. The findings therefore potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease in the long term may benefit from the new knowledge,” says Professor Vilhelm Bohr from the Center for Healthy Aging, University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health, who has headed the study.

Our brains need fuel from either sugar or ketones.

The brain reserves ketones as fuel for times when blood sugar is low.

The body breaks down fat when it is in need of sugar, and through this process, ketones are made.

The research team saw a significantly positive effect when the mice were given medium-chain fatty acids, like ones from coconut oil.

In cells from children with Cockayne syndrome, we have previously demonstrated that aging is a result of the cell repair mechanism being constantly active. It eats into the resources and causes the cell to age very quickly. We therefore hope that a diet with a high content of coconut oil or similar fats will have a beneficial effect, because the brain cells are given extra fuel and thus the strength to repair the damage,” says postdoc Morten Scheibye-Knudsen from the National Institute of Health.

This study was published in the November 4, 2014 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.

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1. “High-fat Diet Postponing Brain Aging.” University of Copenhagen. University of Copenhagen, 5 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

2. “A High-Fat Diet and NAD+ Activate Sirt1 to Rescue Premature Aging in Cockayne Syndrome.” Cell Metabolism. Cell Metabolism, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.

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