Salad during the week and fries on the weekend? These are the effects of cyclical diets

We all know that a healthy diet full of fiber, vitamins and high calories is much better for life and joints than the average maternity diet full of fat and sugar. But what really happens to your brain if you alternate between healthy and unhealthy foods every week?

Junk food, you can’t escape in western society, temptations are everywhere. However, most people eat a varied and reasonably healthy diet. We start the week well with lots of fruit and vegetables and a little chocolate and chips. But it’s Friday evening and wine comes to the table with a block of cheese or a bitterball. Why not: It’s the weekend, it’s been busy at the office, and we’ve been eating healthy all week?

Junk food cycle
Australian researchers Investigated What those unhealthy weekends will do to your short-term memory. To do this, they put a group of lab rats on a dubious cyclic diet. Previous research has already shown that a diet high in sugar and fat is bad for cognitive abilities in mice and humans. consequences ‘Diet Cycling’ However, it has rarely been studied. “We wanted to know whether the same amount of unhealthy food, but administered in different areas and over a longer period of time, would have the same effect on health,” explains Professor Margaret Morris. University of New South Wales outside.

“Our lab has recently been investigating the link between a diet high in fat and sugar and short-term memory function. For this we put mice on different diets and how this affected them,” says Professor Mike Kendick. One group of rats was fed only healthy rat chow. The other group was fed only an unhealthy ‘cafeteria diet’ high in fat and sugar for 16 days. The other rats received this unhealthy diet but had healthy rat diet for a few days in between. In this way, the effect of long and short feeding cycles can be measured.

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Gut bacteria
The results were not good. Compared to the healthy diet group, the rats forced to eat the junk food all showed poorer scores on the working memory test. Additionally, the longer the junk food period lasted, the worse the animals were at remembering the location of objects in a maze. It is also interesting that clear changes in the gastrointestinal tract were observed in the junk-fed mice. The microbiome contained fewer different bacterial species, and there were more ‘bad’ and fewer ‘good’ bacteria. This effect is exacerbated by prolonged periods of unhealthy eating. All rats fed the cafeteria gained more weight than their healthy counterparts. It made little or no difference how long the ‘unhealthy cycles’ lasted. In other words, the effect on short-term memory and microbes appeared to be independent of weight gain.

How is this possible? Many factors play a role, of which the quality of the intestinal flora is an important one. “Our analysis shows that the presence of two bacterial species is linked to a reduced function of short-term memory. Cyclic diets and their effects on the microbiome directly affect memory status,” says Kendick.

Inflammatory reactions in the brain
“It is clear that the gut is connected to our brain. “So changes in the microbiota affect our brain and behavior,” Morris explains. Another reason may be that an unhealthy diet causes inflammation in the body and brain. “We know that inflammatory responses in the brain can harm the function of parts of the brain. In the past, we have also been able to show that a decline in brain function goes hand-in-hand with inflammation in the brain.

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It seems certain that junk food affects brain structure. Previous research has already shown that the hippocampus, a brain region essential for learning and memory, can shrink under the influence of a diet high in fat and sugars.

Healthy food for a healthy brain
One of the main conclusions of the study is that subtle changes in our diet can already affect our thinking and memory. In order to maintain our short-term memory well, healthy long-term healthy foods are very important. “We think this is essential for healthy older people with a well-functioning brain. If you maintain a healthy diet, such as a Mediterranean diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, low saturated fats and good proteins, you have a better chance of having a good memory,” concludes Morris.

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