High-fat diet linked to depression, anxiety
A high-fat diet has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and heart disease, but a new study suggests that it could cause behavioral changes as well.
Using mice, researchers from Louisiana State University tested whether an obesity-related microbiome -- the mix of bacteria in the gut -- altered behavior and cognition, even if obesity was absent.
Non-obese adult mice that received transplanted microbiota from mice maintaining a high-fat diet experienced increased anxiety, repetitive behaviors, and impaired memory.
The researchers also found that the non-obese mice showed "increased intestinal permeability and markers of inflammation." Inflammation in the brain has been linked to severe depression in humans.
"This paper suggests that high-fat diets impair brain health, in part, by disrupting the symbiotic relationship between humans and the microorganisms that occupy our gastrointestinal tracks," said Dr. John Krystal, editor of Biological Psychiatry.
Krystal and his team said more research needs to be done, but that their findings suggest "the gut microbiome has the eventual potential to serve as a therapeutic target for neuropsychiatric disorders."
A high-fat diet has also been shown to contribute to prostate diseases and cancer. According to researchers from Case Western Reserve University, a high-fat diet triggers a protein that controls DNA and leads to inflammation and prostate diseases. A high-fat diet has also been linked to an increased risk of developing colon cancer.