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Study shows junk food damages your brain

By Stephen Morgan     Nov 20, 2014 in Health
Trans fats found in junk food are renowned for creating obesity and heart disease, but now it has been proven that they damage the functioning of the brain as well.
Science Daily reports that researchers from the University of California-San Diego have found that eating trans fats causes inflammation of the brain, which leads to significant memory loss among men in the prime of their life. Dr Beatrice A. Golomb, the author of the study, said,
"Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory, in young and middle-aged men, during their working and career-building years."
The 690 male participants filled out a questionnaire about their eating habits and the researchers then estimated their trans fat consumption. The subjects were then given 104 cards with words on and told to state which words were new or repeated.
The results showed conclusively that for men under 45, the more trans fat consumed led to poorer memory abilities, regardless of such things as education or depression. Each gram eaten correlated with 0.76 fewer words recalled in the tests, equivalent to a 10 percent memory deficiency compared with those who ate less trans fat. How much this could increase over time isn't clear.
The scientists based their study on results from previous research, which showed that chocolate actually had a positive effect on memory by boosting stress and energy levels and that since trans fats were prooxidant and energy reductive, they postulated that they should have the opposite effect, which was the case.
In an article in Forbes, Dr Golomb expalins how the trans fats cause this memory deficit,
“The hippocampus is an area of the brain strongly involved in memory. It is also particularly vulnerable to cell death in settings of inadequate cell energy.” Oxidative stress can hamper blood vessel function, leading to inadequate blood flow and inadequate cell energy, which in turn leads to cell dysfunction and cell death. “Cell death in turn triggers inflammation. Inflammation is also linked to worse cognitive function – and also further promotes oxidative stress.”
USA Today quotes Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, who commented that, "These artificial fats penetrate every cell in the body and can disrupt basic cell functions,"
Dr. Patrick T. O'Gara, president of the American College of Cardiology, said that the study adds to the growing body of evidence that what we eat affects how we think. "The supply of nutrients in blood to the brain can actually affect its function."
Trans fats are found in all sorts of foods with added preservatives like chips, cakes, frozen pizza and junk food in general.
The major contribution of trans fats to obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart problems has been well-established, but this is the first time they have been shown to actually damage the functioning of the brain.
"As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people," Dr Golomb said.
He warned the public that trans fats are, "a metabolic poison and that's not a good thing to be putting into your body. They don't provide anything the body needs."
Dr Willet added that there doesn't seem to be any way to reverse the harmful effects of trans fats. The only thing one can do is to minimize the damage and stop its progression by cutting out junk foods, eating healthily, drinking sensibly, not smoking and getting regular exercise.
More about Junk food, Memory, Damage