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Medicine Science

High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Can Lead To Cognitive Decline 244

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Oregon State University have completed a study into how the sugar and fat content of a diet relates to cognitive flexibility. They found that diets with high amounts of either led to a decline in cognitive function. "This effect was most serious on the high-sugar diet, which also showed an impairment of early learning for both long-term and short-term memory." After four weeks on a high-fat or high-sugar diet, the performance of mice on various mental and physical tests started dropping. One of the scientists, Kathy Magnusson, said, "We've known for a while that too much fat and sugar are not good for you. This work suggests that fat and sugar are altering your healthy bacterial systems, and that's one of the reasons those foods aren't good for you. It's not just the food that could be influencing your brain, but an interaction between the food and microbial changes."
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High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Can Lead To Cognitive Decline

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  • High fat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 25, 2015 @09:03AM (#49984567)

    What’s often referred to as the “Western diet,” or foods that are high in fat, sugars and simple carbohydrates, has been linked to a range of chronic illnesses in the United States, including the obesity epidemic and an increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.

    The part about fat has being disproved in the last several years.

    This is just one study. We'll see if the results can be duplicated.

    • If they took the "Standard American Diet" and added fat, then yes, I can see that being a problem, but from the carbohydrates that are still there.

      I didn't see any reference to how the tests were ran, so it is very challenging to properly understand how they reached their conclusions.

      I have been running on a LCHF way of eating for nearly 2 years, with zero negative impacts.

      • by nattt ( 568106 )

        SAD is SAD for mice and humans. Lab chow is far removed from a natural diet for mice, as are the special higher fat or higher carb chows. LCHF will work very well for humans.

      • by fwarren ( 579763 )

        I call bullshit on the study. Mice are designed to run on a grain based diet. Adding a bunch of fat or sugar is not really natural for them. This is a study that works as FUD. When the government agrees with the experts that we need remove the limits on fats in foods and that low fat foods are actually harmful, they can point to this study to keep people confused and sell some more low fat yogurt and snackwells.

        Now if we stop talking about mice and start talking about people we can look at what the science

        • by nattt ( 568106 )

          Typical lab mouse chow is far removed from the natural diet of mice. The carbohydrate comes from sugar and simple carbs, the fat from industrial seed oil and lard. Lard is fine for humans, but it's no where near what a mouse would eat naturally.

          Our bodies are rather adept at turning grains into sugar, and sugar is sugar to your body when eaten directly or converted from grains. They have essentially the same metabolic effect and are almost equally bad for us.

        • Read the study then comment moron. The point of the research was how the diet altered the bacteria in the gut and how that impacted cognitive performance.

          Yes mice are a good animal model.

          Since when is sucking diet Doritos and bottled sugar water a natural diet for people....
          • He mostly just said that are mice are designed to run on a grain based diet. The study is clearly motivated by the natural diet of a particular organism. From the intro: "The Western diet contributes to many chronic, diet-related illnesses in the United States, including the obesity epidemic (Cordain et al., 2005). Western diets are typically high in fat and simple carbohydrates (CHOs) (Cordain et al., 2005). Higher intake of fats and refined sugars are associated with deficits in cognitive flexibility and
    • Re:High fat? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @09:16AM (#49984647) Journal
      This. Quit the knee jerk reactions and instant dieting habits swing based on the last episode of Dr Oz.

      Enjoy a few decadent meals each month, and balance that with plenty of salads, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid the processed food poison.

      Shite, you might even exercise once in a while.

      • Re:High fat? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @09:25AM (#49984705)

        This and more.

        I have switched to low sugar, low carb, and started working out five times a week, two days of lifting, three days of cardio with running 5K or more on the weekends and managed to lose 40 lbs in 8 weeks. That's over 15% of my body mass.

        While the level of insanity that I endured for this is a bit much, I can attest to the fact that the amount of crap we add in American diets is excessive to the point of "we need to stop hurting ourselves"

        The biggest guidelines that I have for myself is if it's designed to sit on a shelf for a long time, it's not designed to be consumed and carbs are great, only if you have a plan to burn them off.

        • Re:High fat? (Score:5, Informative)

          by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @09:38AM (#49984817)

          managed to lose 40 lbs in 8 weeks.

          Losing 300+ grams (11+ oz) a day is generally considered seriously unhealthy. Yeah, you started from a seriously unhealthy weight, but continuing a diet like that is a really bad idea.

      • There's a difference between a high fat diet and avoiding fat at all costs. For me, the southbeach diet is a sustainable diet and for all that is written about low carbs, the real secret ingredient is accepting more fats in you diet as caloric replacements for carbs. While some fats seem to be better than others (e.g. Nuts) the simple evidence is fats 1) digest more slowly 2) satiate your appetite more that the equivalent calories in carb or protein and 3) metabolically don't produce more fat. The last

    • by plopez ( 54068 )

      "The part about *some* fats has *research suggesting that consumed in moderate amounts can be part of a healthy diet has been published" in the last several years."

      Fixed that for you.

      • I think you meant to say omega-3 and that a restriction on total dietary fat is not good because it can restrict the intake of good fat like omega-3.

        Enhanced that for you.
  • ...Kim Kardashian has published a book.

    I'll be here all week. Tip your waiter.

  • Wouldn't it be obnoxious if, rather than being 'unhealthy', that treasure-trove of historically scarce calories is simply a signal that whatever strategy we are using must be pretty much optimal, so wasteful expenditures on cognition can now be reallocated to building energy reserves. Thinking is, after all, the tool not the goal; because there isn't a goal.
  • The paper is here if anyone wants to cough up the cash to read it: []

  • Although I can't read (without paying) the study to be exact, most chows for diet testing mice are pretty standard. Although the claim is that a high fat diet was used, we must be careful to consider the type of fat used and that it's still greater in carbohydrate than fat. The types of fat used in these diets all seem to contain industrial seed oil which is not something any of us should be eating, and all are what would still be considered a high carbohydrate diet, almost all from simple carbohydrate and

    • Here is the dietary composition. Sorry about the formatting. Table 1. Comparison of diets Normal (chow) High-fat High-sucrose PicoLab Rodent Diet kcal/kg diet 4070 4500 4000 Percent of kcal provided by: Protein 24.7 17.3 17.7 Carbohydrate 62.1 42.7 70.4 Fat 13.2 42.0 11.8 Sucrose, g/kg diet 31.8 341.46 645.6
  • Back to my mini donuts
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @10:05AM (#49985015) Journal

    Would switching to a high veggie low fat diet reverse the trend and rebalence flora?

    It has been stated weight gains happen with fecal transplants. So different flora over time could reverse

  • Maybe the researchers were smoking pot thus making them stupid and then got the munchies but to cover their asses they blamed the food.

  • by savuporo ( 658486 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @10:08AM (#49985039)

    And i quote:
    As the 21st century began, human evolution was at a turning point. Natural selection, the process by which the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, reproduced in greater numbers than the rest, a process which had once favored the noblest traits of man, now began to favor different traits. Most science fiction of the day predicted a future that was more civilized and more intelligent. But as time went on, things seemed to be heading in the opposite direction. A dumbing down. How did this happen? Evolution does not necessarily reward intelligence. With no natural predators to thin the herd, it began to simply reward those who reproduced the most, and left the intelligent to become an endangered species.

    • Other people are more threatening to our survival than any animal on the planet.

      If you think about it, it doesn't take a lot of brain power to hunt a woolly mammoth. Perhaps there was a minimum requirement to hunt the way we did. But maybe our current situation is the result of a runaway chain reaction of bigger and bigger brains so that we may better compete with ourselves rather than other animals.

      The "whole dumb people reproducing more" meme may be true in some places, but in others, I bet that dumb peop

  • As a committed member of the management team working to facilitate synergy in my group, it disturbed me to learn the delicious donuts and cookies id been bringing to work each friday morning for my team were in fact turning them into knuckle dragging dullards. The crisp crullers and warm cheese danishes that melt in the mouth were stymying their creativity. Action had to be taken and being an ITIL six sigma pirouette jolliette corvette and pork chop marionette certified manager I had to facilitate this ac
  • 'ell I mus' ba dum az shit -- an' Ima keep gettin' stupider.

    Really? Eat a BALANCED fucking diet and you will be just fucking fine. Food scare 2015... *sigh*

    I love the morons that don't have Celiac disease, but OMG TH3 GLUTENS they are killing me!!!!

    I have given up on not laughing my ass off if I am out and someone I am with asks for gluten free and I say: "Holy SHIT! You have Celiac disease?!? I didn't know" ... reply: "No, it just makes me feel bad". Whatever.....

  • Recent studies have researchers concerned that pot use in the under-18 crowd causes cognitive decline. Since pot is a Schedule 1 (most restrictive) substance in the US, I argue sugar and fat must also be put on Schedule 1 since our Oregon friends at OSU have discovered similar effects in youngsters.

  • Once again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crmarvin42 ( 652893 ) on Thursday June 25, 2015 @10:29AM (#49985203)
    omce again human nutritional claims are being based on rodent model work, despite there being very little reason to expect the results to e replicable in humans. Stop giving PRELIMINARY and non-confirmed trials coverage as though they actually mean something. This trial only applies to mice at the moment. Maybe it can be extrapolated to all rodents in general, but the leap from rodents to humans directly is pure bull shit over reach.
  • Could this be that mice weren't hungry after high-fat and high-sugar diet and weren't as motivated to run the maze?
  • You need the full article -- the abstract at the very least -- to make any sense of a study. Press releases are written by PR flacks who dumb down the science to the point where it is meaningless, as in this case. What you need to make sense of an experiment are details and context, neither of which the PR release in question provide. This is the problem with PR -- it's not a discipline that's meant to help you grasp complexity; it's about coming away with a simple, carefully chosen message.

    Even if you hav

    • From the abstract:

      "Western diets are high in fat and sucrose and can influence behavior and gut microbiota. There is growing evidence that altering the microbiome can influence the brain and behavior. This study was designed to determine whether diet-induced changes in the gut microbiota could contribute to alterations in anxiety, memory or cognitive flexibility." []

      Surely you can understand that much without getting your panties in a twist. It's not a public policy doc
  • Honestly, it makes evolutionary sense.
    Cognition is a high-energy task; the brain takes a massive proportion of the body's energy - it's about 5% of our mass, but consumes about 25% of our resting caloric consumption, and this does go up as we "think harder".

    The *sole* function of an organism is to live and to reproduce.

    If - from a simple organism standpoint - the "living" bit is effortless, ie you're not being chased by sabertooths and you're getting piles of calories coming in, why waste energy on brainpow

  • Could it be that high fat/sugar diets cause decline in cognitive function and gut bacteria by two separate and unrelated mechanisms? It is possible that gut bacteria decline and decline in cognitive function are not related at all. It is similar to drinking too much coffee. The coffee causes the alertness and irritability not the coffee causing the alertness and the alertness causing the irritability. Sometimes the results are not a chain.

  • If you're going to study high fat vs high carb, you'd at least control for protein and calories, right? NO!!!!!! THE HIGH FAT DIET HAS LESS PROTEIN AND MORE CALORIES!!!!! Previous studies in this field have also been misleading: "It’s well known that in mice, “high-fat diets” induce endotoxemia. But these diets aren’t necessarily high in fat – any pelleted rodent food in which fat provides more than 20% of calories may be called “high-fat.” The critical difference
  • As far as I can see, the study concluded that "too much" fat or sugar impairs cognitive function. Presumably the study itself explains what is considered "too much"; but obviously no diet can reduce both fat and sugar very far, or the majority of calories would have to come from protein. And that is very unhealthy. It is well known that deriving more than 40-50% of calories from protein leads to ill health and, in extreme cases, death. []

    So at least half of daily calories must

    • Ah. OK. Now I see. When I posted the parent, I had only read the summary on Slashdot. I assumed the research was competently done, and accurately reported. As I finished posting, I realised those are not safe assumptions, so I took a closer look.

      Well, folks, the study was done on... mice. Because obviously mice have evolved to eat the same diet as human beings, and react in exactly the same ways to changes in diet. Right.

      Reminds me of the early researchers in the "cholesterol will kill you" racket, who did

  • by whitroth ( 9367 ) <> on Thursday June 25, 2015 @01:05PM (#49986615) Homepage

    So many people in the US South, whose cooking and tastes are high on both, keep voting against their own self-interest....

                  mark, wondering what the average diet of a libertarian is

  • What’s often referred to as the “Western diet,” or foods that are high in fat, sugars and simple carbohydrates, has been linked to a range of chronic illnesses in the United States,

    I seem to recall also that eating excessive amounts of protein is also bad for you.

    I guess it's time to start avoiding foods that are high in food.

Of course there's no reason for it, it's just our policy.