We’ve all heard that fruits and vegetables are “brain food” – part of a nutritious diet that will help you develop and fortify a strong mind. Turns out, fruits and vegetables are only part of the equation. Researchers at the National Institute of Health and the University of Copenhagen have discovered that a high fat diet has slowed the aging process in the brains of mice.
Wait! Don’t plan on moving into a Dunkin Donuts yet.
Researchers fed the mice a steady diet of coconut oil, a substance rich in medium chain fatty acids. Mice with Cockayne syndrome – a premature aging disorder that is linked to the CSB protein in DNA – showed a dramatic improvement in health after starting a high-fat diet. Fats seem to bolster the CSB protein, the deterioration of which has also been linked to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
While researchers aren’t sure how much fat and what types benefit human brains, it’s becoming clear that a fat-free existence isn’t a good idea for the aging population. This isn’t a license to feast on double cheeseburgers at every meal. A Nature Neuroscience study found that eating to excess, especially high-fat foods, can cause chemical changes to the brain.
So, you should consume fat, but not too much. It’s a contradictory statement, but one that is important for aging Americans to understand. The key to all food consumption is balance. If you’re interested in finding a healthy diet that will keep your mind and body sound, the National Institute on Aging offers a breakdown of the most popular healthy diets for seniors. The USDA Food Patterns and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Eating Plan offer excellent ways to keep your mind and body vital as you age.
At Capital City Nurses, we know that a healthy diet leads to an active aging process. Choose foods that will nourish your mind and body and you will be rewarded with more active senior years. Don’t fear fat, add some coconut oil to your meal to make your dinner brain food.