Women may suffer from serious brain health problems as a result of eating a high-fat diet, a new study suggests. The problem involves a process called hippocampus, in which the brain forms new neurons in a part of the brain that control certain emotional processes and memories. Obstacles in this process may be the drivers of dementia and depression.
The link between hippocampus nerve damage and Alzheimer’s disease is known. Many studies over the years have evaluated this association and found that hippocampus nerves are important in humans and may have a significant overall impact on cognitive function. A new study by the Society for Neuroscience has found that a high-fat diet may have a gender-specific effect on the growth of this new neuron.
After feeding the female mice a high-fat diet for 18 weeks, they found damage to the hippocampus, the researchers said. However, the same brain health problems were not observed in male mice. However, due to a high-fat diet, both male and female mouse groups experienced high blood sugar and weight gain.
The researchers found that male mice fed a high-fat diet had the same number of newborn neurons as male mice in the control group (non-high-fat diet). However, fewer new and growing neurons were found in female mouse hippocampus. These findings are combined with past studies that have linked obesity to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and depression.
The study explains that damage to the hippocampus may explain why women are more likely than men to experience a greater degree of cognitive decline when suffering from depression or Alzheimer’s disease. Previous studies have also found a link between a diet high in saturated fat and depression, as well as a high-fat diet and increased hunger.