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Diets with high levels of fat and sugar can reduce cognitive functioning

Published on 30/06/2015

Diets that are high in fat and sugar content can alter the bacteria in the gut which may reduce cognitive functioning, a US study says.

A high sugar diet can affect more than your waistline

The study from researchers at Oregon State University found that certain diets can trigger changes in the gut bacteria. The research was published in the journal Neuroscience.

The triggers in the gut that are affected are associated with the loss of cognitive functioning, in particular the ability to adapt to changing situations. A diet high in sugar was highlighted as being strongly associated with poorer memory, both long and short term.

The research provides more evidence to the idea that gut bacteria communicates with the brain. Professor Kathy Magnusson, who was the lead investigator on the research, feels that more work is needed to ascertain the effects of this.

Professor Magnusson said: “Bacteria can release compounds that act as neurotransmitters, stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system, and affect a wide range of biological functions.

“We're not sure just what messages are being sent, but we are tracking down the pathways and the effects.”

The study focused on mice and randomized diets on the mice consisted either a high-fat or high-sugar diet or normal chow. Their gut bacteria was examined and they underwent different tests to deduce their cognitive flexibility. Mice whose diet was high in sugar had the greatest reduction in cognitive flexibility and also reduced long and short-term memory.

You can reduce your private health insurance premiums by eating and living more healthily.

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