A diet high in fat can have negative effects on memory after just one day, according to new research by the University of Aberdeen.
The researchers, studying rodent models, found that the more complex a memory is, the greater the risk that it will be compromised by a high-fat diet. The study demonstrates that such a diet causes deficits in episodic, spatial and contextual memory.
Episodic memory (those that provide context, such as ‘what, when, who and where’) is important in humans as it is one of the first types of memory to be compromised in Alzheimer’s disease and deficits in this memory type have been linked to a higher body mass index in young adults.
During the study, mice were tasked with remembering an object, where the object was seen and in which context from a single event. Mice were also tested on spontaneous exploration tasks which test components of episodic memory. It was found that mice on a high fat diet performed significantly worse than those on a low fat diet.
The study’s lead author, Fiona Mclean, said: ‘Alzheimer’s disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality with no cure and only limited treatment available.’
‘Obesity and type 2 diabetes are positively associated with the development of premature cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, linking diet with these conditions.’
The researchers say the damage can be reversed by switching to a low-fat diet.