A high-fat diet can postpone brain aging in mice, a new study has found, but the results may also help fight Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Researchers have discovered that a high-fat diet — from fatty acids contained in coconut oil, or similar — gives brain cells extra fuel to burn, which helps its repair mechanism work more efficiently.
The Danish-led research targeted Cockayne syndrome, a rare genetic condition which causes a defect in the cell repair mechanisms (Scheibye-Knudsen et al., 2014).
Children with the syndrome age prematurely and often die at just 10 to 12-years-old.
Professor Vilhelm Bohr, who led the study, said:
“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.”
The findings may be beneficial to everyone since, with age, we all develop brain defects which lead to a reduction in mental capacity, as well as the increasing risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In this study, mice with the defect in the DNA repair system were fed on a high-fat diet containing medium-chain fatty acids.
This diet postponed typical age-related problems like hearing loss and difficulties maintaining a healthy weight.
Dr. Morten Scheibye-Knudsen, the study’s first author, said:
“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.”
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Image credit: Liz Jones