Something to be truly thankful for
Today is about two things: family and food (and not necessarily in that order).
If you or anyone that will be gathered around your table today struggles with dementia — or worse — Alzheimer’s, new research should top your list of things to give thanks for.
Because a Danish research team discovered that dietary fat can actually slow down your brain’s aging. And that can be a game-changer when it comes to saving your memory.
What makes this particularly interesting is that the researchers were looking for something that might help kids who have a rare disease, one that causes them to rapidly age.
But what they found can help all of us.
We’ve all heard that low-fat diet myth for so long, you just want to throw a pie at it.
A nice, fatty, banana cream pie.
But throughout that constant low-fat mantra, there have been plenty of studies showing how good certain fats are for our hearts. This new research, however, tops them all.
Because it’s all about fat and your brain.
The Danish research team– in partnership with the National Institutes of Health — discovered that our brain needs “fuel” to stay healthy. And the fuel that can best protect it — while keeping damage in check — is, you guessed it…fat.
Especially the kind of fat called medium-chain fatty acids, like you’d find in coconut oil.
Now, remember, the researchers weren’t looking for ways to prevent Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or dementia. That came later.
What they were searching for was something to help kids with a very rare disease called Cockayne syndrome. It is so rare, in fact, only 300 kids around the world have it.
They were searching for something that might delay the tragic rapid aging that turns these kids into “old” people before they’re even teenagers.
In mice who have the very same DNA defect these kids do, they found that they were able to postpone the aging process by placing them on a high-fat diet.
And in a previous study, they had seen how cells taken from these children showed signs of “the cell repair mechanism being constantly active.” That causes their cells to age very fast and can keep those cells from having the “strength” to continue making “repairs” to their DNA.
Similar DNA damage is also found in people with Alzheimer’s. It’s when that “repair system” is weakened that the aging process appears to take over.
Professor Vihelm Bohr, who headed the study from the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen, said that the study is “good news” for kids who have the rare disease.
But for the rest of us, the good news is that a high-fat diet may be able to “postpone aging processes,” and help patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, he said.
And I sure hope the finding that a high-fat diet can protect your brain from aging and may guard against a terrible disease like Alzheimer’s is enough to keep those fat-free fanatics quiet once and for all.
But if not, at least we can be thankful that we know the truth.
“High-fat diet postponing brain aging” November 5, 2014, University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, healthsciences.ku.dk