The consumption of junk foods may
lead to memory loss, suggests new research. Poor diet was found to induce
memory loss in rodents in as early as six days.
A team of researchers from the University of New
South Wales experimented with rats; rats were placed on a diet rich in sugar and fat
The performance of these rats were compared with rodents on a healthy diet
the end of just six days, those rats on poor diet were found to develop memory loss
"Poor diet was associated with a cognitive decline
that happened very quickly," researcher
Margaret Morris said.
"So within six days of the diet, the animals
performed less well on a spatial memory task.
We were surprised at how fast it was."
The researchers observed inflammation in the
hippocampus in these animals; the hippocampus is a part of the brain involved
in formation and storage of memory.
Memory issues in rats became apparent before the
appearance of physical symptoms. "The animals
of course weren't obese
six days on the diet. So the changes in cognition, the loss of memory, happened
well before there was any weight change," said Professor Morris.
that high energy foods
can impair the function of the hippocampus, if you eat a lot of them it may
contribute to weight gain, by interfering with your episodic memory," Professor
So now comes the question,
is the new finding applicable to humans? Unfortunately clear evidences are yet
to be available.
"It's hard of course
to extrapolate to humans. But there is data in human volunteers fed a poor junk
diet for just five days, that there was a loss of executive function."
A healthy diet however is undoubtedly
a necessity for a healthy mind and body. Inappropriate diet may very well
hamper our cognitive capabilities.
"While nutrition affects
the brain at every age, it is critical as we get older and may be important in
preventing cognitive decline. An elderly person with poor diet may be more
likely to have problems."
might be less aware of their internal cues like hunger pangs
knowing when they have had enough."
The latest study was funded by the National
Health and Medical Research Council and published in the journal Brain,
Behaviour and Immunity.