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Hippocampal disorder due to unhealthy eating
The Western diet is characterized by high sugar and fat consumption. A current study now suggests that a diet high in fat and sugar has a negative impact on mental performance. After just a week of high-fat and sugary nutrition, volunteers did worse in memory tests than people who ate healthier.
Researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney found in a study that a high-fat and sugar-rich diet can impair brain function. On the one hand, the affected consumers are less mentally efficient and on the other hand, this diet encourages even lean and healthy people to consume excessive calories. The results were recently presented in the journal "Royal Society Open Science".
Too much fat and sugar affect the hippocampus
Earlier studies in animals found that a diet high in fat and sugar affected the hippocampus. This region of the brain is involved in both memory and appetite control. Animals fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet showed rapid impairment of hippocampal function and poorer appetite control.
Checked on people
In the current study, this connection has now been checked in humans. 110 healthy and slim volunteers were randomly divided into two groups. One group continued to eat as usual, the other group was given a diet high in sugar and fat that contained a lot of fast food. Measurements of hippocampal-dependent memory and appetite control were performed before and after this time window.
What is the result of the study?
Compared to the control group, the performance of the hippocampal-dependent memory and the appetite control in the group with the high-fat and sugar-rich diet decreased significantly after just one week. The researchers conclude that such a diet, which is well represented in the western world, promotes overeating. In addition, the results also indicate a functional role of the hippocampus in appetite control.
The affected hippocampus subtly spurred even healthy and slim people to eat more than usual. This was also clear from the memory test. After seven days with a high-fat and sugar-heavy diet, the participants performed worse in memory tests. This returned to normal in another test three weeks later after the volunteers switched back to a healthier diet.
Fat and sugar make fat and sugar more desirable
"After a week of western diet, tasty foods like snacks and chocolate become more desirable - even if you're already full," stressed Professor of Psychology Richard Stevenson. This will make it more difficult to resist, which will result in you eating more. This in turn has an increasingly negative effect on the hippocampus - a vicious circle that promotes overeating.
The more the subjects asked for sweets or fatty snacks after a meal, the more impaired the function of the hippocampus in the tests. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Richard J. Stevenson, Heather M. Francis, Tuki Attuquayefio, u.a .: Hippocampal-dependent appetitive control is impaired by experimental exposure to a Western-style diet; in: Royal Society Open Science, 2020, royalsocietypublishing.org