Sunday, September 6, 2009

High-fat diets may reduce muscle and cognitive abilities within days

Recent research at the University of Cambridge shows that rats fed on a high-fat diet have markedly reduced muscle and cognitive function within a few days of a change to the high-fat diet, compared to rats fed on a low-fat diet.

The results were reported in The FASEB Journal recently and summarized in a press release published at Science Daily.

Of course, this happened in lab rats . . . not humans.  So we have a long way to go before we can establish specific human nutritional guidelines.  And the low-fat diets were very low, compared the average American diet.  But the high-fat diet fed to rats approached that consumed by many who eat mostly junk food . . . and some on high-fat, low-carb diets (however, the high-fat rat diet wasn't particularly low in carbs).  

Even though there are more questions to answer, these results are remarkable and may prove to be an important milestone in understanding human metabolism.  And may someday affect how athletes prepare for competitions . . . and now students prepare for exams.

For example, researchers claim that the high-fat diet changes the expression of the UCP3 (uncoupling protein) gene.  UCP3 "uncouples" oxidative phosphorylation from ATP synthesis by allowing protons to "leak" across the inner mitochondrial membrane, thus disrupting the proton gradient that drives ATP synthase. (Chapter 27 in my Anatomy & Physiology textbook illustrates the normal function of the proton gradient.) 

Such respiratory uncoupling would explain the reduced physical and cognitive ability seen in the experiments. This could be a very useful trail to follow, eh?

Want to know more?

Do High-fat Diets Make Us
Stupid And Lazy? Physical And Memory Abilities Of Rats Affected After 9

University of Cambridge (2009, September 5).
ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 6, 2009
[Plain English summary of the results and their implications]

Deterioration of physical performance and cognitive function in rats with short-term high-fat feeding.
Murray et al.
The FASEB Journal, 2009; DOI: 10.1096/fj.09-139691
[FREE abstract of the original research article]

{Photo taken by Muu-karhu


ANATA said...
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ANATA said...

The rat diet is very different from a human's diet in many ways and most rats are extremely reluctant to change their diet and have to be induced to do so often under extreme conditions. This is not mentioned and may be relavent. Similarly the rat is often much harder to induce into any form of activity when satiated - aren't we all!!

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