Processed Foods Impair Memory — Can Omega-3 Prevent It
A group of researchers from Ohio State University and Inotiv Inc conducted a study to examine the impact of a refined carbohydrate-rich diet on rats’ memory and whether omega-3 could prevent the adverse effects. Scientists link refined carbohydrate-rich diets to memory and learning issues, along with weight gain. Earlier studies have found that a short-term high fat diet led to increased inflammation in different brain parts and impaired memory in older rats. Yet, the researchers discovered that this could be improved with dietary intervention.
This study uncovered that processed foods can impair memory function in older rats and can cause brain inflammation. Nevertheless, omega-3 supplementation can improve these effects. The research included 3- and 24-month old male rats that were divided into three groups. The first group of rats was given a regular diet containing 54% complex carbohydrates. The second group was fed with processed foods which had 63.3% refined carbohydrates. The last group ate processed foods and DHA supplements.
The researchers found that during the conditioning phase, the different groups of rats had similar freezing behavior. However, the older rats who ate only a processed diet froze much less in the fear experiments than older animals on other diet plans. The study also discovered that the rats fed only processed foods had significantly increased levels of inflammation than the other two groups of rats.
The authors concluded that a processed food diet could impair neuroinflammatory gene expression and cognitive function with refined carbohydrates. However, these effects can be reduced by DHA supplementation.
Still, one of the study’s limitations was that the researchers couldn’t determine the amount of food that each rat consumed. Future studies should focus on the long-term effect of processed foods with refined carbohydrates on humans. Further research is also needed to examine whether DHA impacts neurodegenerative disorders that cause progressive cognitive decline, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.