Are you feeling a little out of it these days? If your memory is clouded and you have a hard time staying focused, you aren’t alone. For many of us, a busy, jam-packed work and social calendar means we often feel like we are walking in a fog. While we are quick to blame lack of sleep, it might actually be due to the way we eat.

Recent research published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, found that a high-fat diet may cause the brain to eat itself. The scientists found that mice eating a high-fat diet (defined as 60% of calories from fat), led to an immune response that caused the brain to turn on itself.

They examined two groups of mice. The first group was given a healthy diet of 10% fat and the second group was put on an equally healthy diet but with 60% fat. After eight weeks, the second group had become obese but both groups were similar in brain and body health. By week twelve, the researchers observed cognitive troubles in the high-fat group. Brain scans of the mice found that their microglia, the cells responsible for getting rid of garbage, had become ‘lazy.’

“Normally in the brain, microglia are constantly moving around. They are always moving around their little fingers and processes. What happens in obesity is they stop moving,” explained Alexis M. Stranahan, Ph.D., a neuroscientist in the Department of Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia and lead author of the study. “[Dietary] fat dramatically alters their dynamic.”

 

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Oh, but it gets worse! The microglia not only stop moving, they start eating the closest thing they can find — the brain.  “And when microglia start eating synapses, the mice don’t learn as effectively,” Stranahan said.

But before you start preparing for a zombie mouse apocalypse, there is a solution! When the mice were switched to a low-fat diet, they were able to regrow the synaptic connections they had lost and memory and attention span were also improved. This was found to be the case whether or not the mice lost weight. Reducing the fat content in their diet seemed to be the key to improving their cognitive functioning.

As for whether or not this is also the case in humans, we have yet to find out for sure. But, until the research is done, eliminating some fat from your diet is certainly worth considering. Don’t give it all up, healthy fats are an important part of a healthy diet — for women especially, but getting ride of empty, junk food fats certainly can’t hurt!

What do you think of these findings? Have you cut fat in your diet and found your mind to be clearer?

For healthy advice on balancing your diet and eating for healthy weight loss, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan.

Source: Shape

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