Diet and Alzheimer's are sharing the news again. This time, ScienceDaily is running a story titled, "High-fat Diet Could Promote Development Of Alzheimer's Disease," which links diets rich in animal fat to Alzheimer's disease.
A team of researchers has shown, "that the main neurological markers for Alzheimer's disease are exacerbated in the brains of mice fed a diet rich in animal fat and poor in omega-3s. I wrote about Omega-3 fatty acids in the post titled, "More Encouraging Research on Fish and Healthy Brains." That study showed the beneficial effects of fish oil on the heart and brain.
The study highlighted in the ScienceDaily article is looking at the effects from the opposite angle. The details of the study are outlined in the latest online edition of Neurobiology of Aging.
This study suggests that metabolic changes induced by a diet rich in fat could affect the inflammatory response in the brain, thus contributing to Alzheimer's disease.
Western diets tend to be rich in animal fats and low in fish oil. Fish oil supplements are readily available, however it's wise to look for brands that are guaranteed free of contaminants. Also, eating fish several times a week is recommended by many nutritionists and several diets such as the Mediterranean diet.
The authors of this study admit that they can't guarantee that the work they've done will translate from mice to humans, but feel the addition of more Omega-3 fatty acids to a diet are not likely to hurt a person, and may significantly help.
These are studies that I watch, as I know that it's something that I can do that may help protect my brain (and heart), while not hurting my health, if the study proves wrong. While I follow drug research and read drug studies, I know that it will take years of testing to prove their safety and effectiveness. Many of us want to do what we can while we wait for more answers. Exercise and diet are within our control, so it's exciting to see some of these results.
Just as those who already have Alzheimer's disease are looking for ways to enhance quality of life, many of us who could be at risk (which includes nearly all of us, if we live to be over 85), are looking for ways to safely guard our health and that of our loved ones. It seems as though Omega-3s are good for so many bodily functions, that fish rich in the oils and/or quality supplements should be part of most people's diets.