Diets high in saturated fats stagnate the development of the prefrontal cortex in adolescence. A recent study featuring a researcher’s work from the University of Zurich looked at the brain matter of adolescent mice after introducing high-fat foods into their diet to reach such conclusions.
Read the full study here to see the devastating effects not adhering to a nutritionally balanced diet can have on our children’s developing brains. You may want to change some items you normally pick up for your kid’s lunches at the grocery store after this deep dive.
The high-fat diet focused case study
Understanding the various mechanisms whirring between our brain’s grey matter can be a trip. So many things can go wrong so it’s important to know the little things you can do to improve your brain’s cognitive functionality.
The case study included both adolescent and adult mice. Both parties were introduced to a brand new high fat diet. After only 4 weeks into this new diet, cognitive abnormalities were already beginning to surface in young mice. High-fat foods were deemed the reason for a deficit in reelin reserves. This protein is vital for developing young brains as it helps aid executive functions. Executive functions include the ability to control impulses, make sound decisions, inform and create long and short-term memories, and present socially acceptable behavior.
When high concentrates of fatty deposits interrupt the creation of this helpful protein in our prefrontal cortex a few things can happen. According to one of the authors of this release, kids exhibit antisocial behaviors along with this person having “difficulty with complex learning processes, losing their inhibitions, or becoming aggressive, childish, or compulsive.”
The adult mice under this same high fat diet only seemed to gain weight with no outward implications of prefrontal cortex disturbances. However, more research is needed to connect obesity in adults with other cognitive defects. For now, this study is focused on the importance of a healthy diet in young children if they want to avoid health complications in adulthood.
A better diet could help you avoid diseases marked by extreme memory loss such as Alzheimer’s disease. This healthier diet could also aid your kids to perform better in school and behave better for you when you’re juggling your dual “teacher-parent role” due to the pandemic moving everything remote. Getting a good night’s sleep can aid in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease as well.
This co-author of the study adds the future implications and benefits of further research between sorting the connection between high-fat diets and your brain’s healthy synaptic responses.
“We believe this study provides the first mechanistic insight into the vulnerability of the adolescent medial prefrontal cortex towards nutritional stress, such as high-fat diets. Our findings have primary relevance to obese individuals who are at an increased risk of developing neurological cognitive comorbidities, and may extend to multiple neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders in which reelin deficiency is a common feature.”
How can I apply this information to help my kids?
This is an easy one, the way to remedy the complications that come with indulging in high-fat diets is to buy healthier foods to make meals for your kids. It’s a struggle to get your kids to eat their fruits and veggies but there are so many delicious organic options nowadays that your kids will hardly be able to tell the difference. There are certain diets that can improve the synaptic functions in our complicated command center, the human brain. Check out this brain-boosting recipe with tons of health benefits here!
You can also make mealtime fun by sharing recipes and cooking healthy with your kids! This will encourage them to be more engaged and mindful of what they put into their bodies and as you make that healthy dish make some flashcards and go into the specific benefits of each ingredient you put into the pot. This could help them ace that remote quiz in health class.
Parents are always searching for ways to improve their child’s future trajectory in life. In order to become a healthy adult, we must begin nourishing our bodies and minds as children.
Urs Meyer, one of the researchers out of the University of Zurich, warns of the repercussions of a poor diet in adolescence. “Although more studies are definitely needed, high-fat diets could potentially exacerbate the reelin and synaptic deficits in patients with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease or even aggravate cognitive anomalies.”
Try to avoid snacks high in trans or saturated fats and you should be able to avoid cognitive decline as you get older. Moderation, like everything in life, is key.