Q. Could a low-fat diet contribute to memory problems?
A. “Since the brain and body cells need fat to survive and thrive, depriving them of certain types of brain-healthy fats may be detrimental to your memory,” said Dr. Richard Isaacson, the director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.
The key issue, Dr. Isaacson said, is the type of fat, with fats being an integral part of a healthy diet. Generally, he said, there are good fats, bad fats and fats on which more research is needed to be certain. Certain fats are indeed essential to protect against memory loss, specifically polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, he said, while trans fats are certainly harmful, and conflicting data exists for saturated fats.
How brain-healthy a fat is tends to vary by individual, depending on precision nutrition. Despite some differences in data on effectiveness in treating a person already given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Isaacson said, studies suggest that diets containing healthy levels of unsaturated fats may help protect against its development.
One unsaturated fat, an omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is known to be essential for the growth and development of the brain in infants and for normal brain function in adults, Dr. Isaacson said. “In our clinic, we emphasize the consumption of DHA and, in somewhat lesser amounts, eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA,” he said. This is important to keep the omega-3 fats in the proper balance with omega-6 fats, which act differently in the body.
To do this through diet, the clinic recommends reducing consumption of vegetable oils high in omega-6s — including corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil — as well as processed foods that contain them. Recommendations also emphasize fruits and vegetables; whole grains in moderation; fatty fish like wild salmon, albacore tuna, lake trout, sardines and mackerel at least once or twice a week; and olive oil, about two teaspoons a day.Click Here For the Febico Store!