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Alzheimer’s disease linked to several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain: Study

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Cognitive Impairment
Alzheimer's disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon, Portugal. It’s predicted that by 2050, 135 million Americans are going to suffer from mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of Alzheimer's. VOA

London, March 23, 2017: Researchers have found that several unsaturated fatty acids in the brain may be associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder, which causes impaired memory, executive function and language. It accounts for 60-80 per cent of total dementia cases worldwide, with over 46 million people suffering from the disease worldwide. The number of patients is estimated to rise to 131.5 million by 2050.

Currently, it is thought that the main reason for developing memory problems in dementia is the presence of two big molecules in the brain called tau and amyloid proteins — that are shown to start accumulating in the brain up to 20 years prior to the onset of the disease.

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However, the findings, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, showed that the metabolism of omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids were significantly decreased in Alzheimer’s brains when compared to brains from healthy patients.

“Our results show a potentially crucial and unexpected role for fats in the onset of dementia. Most surprisingly, we found that a supposedly beneficial omega-3, DHA, actually increased with the progression of the disease,” said Cristina Legido Quigley from King’s College London.

In the study, the team looked at brain tissue samples from 43 people ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old.

The researchers then measured the metabolite levels of the brain regions that are commonly associated with neurodegerative diseases — the middle frontal gyrus and the inferior temporal gyrus — as well as the metabolite levels in a brain area that is not normally affected by the disease’s pathology — the cerebellum.

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The results showed that unsaturated fatty acid metabolism is significantly dysregulated in the brains of patients with varying degrees of Alzheimer pathology.

The main molecules that were different were six small fats — docosahexaenoic acid, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, and oleic acid — including omegas, which changed in abundance in different regions of the brain. (IANS)

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Australian National University Study Warns Link Between Fast Food and Dementia

Dementia is the leading cause of death in Australian women, while for men it is second only to heart disease

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junk food, fast food
A combination hamburger served in Pyongyang, North Korea, June 12, 2018. A new Australian study links fast food, like burgers, to dementia. VOA

Research from the Australian National University (ANU) is warning of a link between the extra calories in a fast-food burger and brain diseases, including dementia.

People are “eating away at their brain with a really bad fast-food diet and little to no exercise,” the lead author of the study said. The ANU study also reinforces the link between type 2 diabetes, which is often triggered by obesity, and the rapid deterioration of brain function.

Dementia is the leading cause of death in Australian women, while for men it is second only to heart disease.

junk food
The study revealed a significant correlation between AGEs and junk food consumption, said Roberto Berni Canani, Associate Professor at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy. Pixabay

A clear link

Researchers believe there is a clear link between the deterioration of the brain and an unhealthy diet as well as a lack of exercise. There is a warning that highly processed fast food that is cheap, widely available and loaded with calories, sugar and fat is leading to significant harm.

The study from the ANU says that the damage to the brain is almost certainly irreversible once a person reaches middle age. Professor Nicolas Cherbuin says lifestyle choices really do matter.

“Poorer diet leads to the development of obesity,” he said. “It is compounded by the lack of physical activity, it leads to an increased level of inflammation in our body, which when it is [in] response to trauma is a good thing. But when it is constantly there it creates damage. It also kills neurons, so it affects our brain function and it leads to ultimately a greater risk of developing dementia later in life.”

junk food
Junk Food. Wikimedia Commons

ALSO READ: High Consumption of Junk Food May Spike up Allergies in Children

A third of adults overweight, obese

The research says that about a third of the world’s adult population is either overweight or obese. The advice is to eat well and exercise from a young age. It is estimated that dementia affects almost 50 million people worldwide, and the global cost of the brain syndromes, including Alzheimer’s disease, is more than $800 billion.

At present there is no prevention or cure for most forms of dementia. However, some medication has been found to reduce some symptoms. (VOA)