Nov 12, 2014 12:35 AM EST
Brain-related damages have caused illnesses with little or no known cure. The effects of such diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and premature aging disorder known as Cockayne syndrome are more detrimental to health than one could imagine.
Linked to a defect in the DNA, particularly in the CSB protein, Cockayne Syndrome causes failure in protein synthesis, and leads to dwarfism, mental retardation, hearing, and vision impairments. It has been said that our brains have the ability to repair the damages done to its DNA, but as we age, this repair process also slows down, together with the rest of the brain functions.
While Parkinson's and Alzheimer's usually affect older adults, Cockayne syndrome sets in on people at their early age, usually succumbing to the disease at the age of 12.
Researchers from the National Institute of Health and the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen found that a high-fat diet could slow down brain aging in mice. This new study uses the model of a mouse with Cockayne syndrome to investigate the flaws in the system's DNA repair. They were fed coconut oil, which is rich is medium-chain fatty acids. The mice subject benefited dramatically from eating a high-fat diet.
Lead author Prof. Vilhelm Bohr said, "The study is good news for children with Cockayne syndrome, because we do not currently have an effective treatment. Our study suggests that a high-fat diet can postpone aging processes."
"A diet high in fat also seems to postpone the aging of the brain. The findings, therefore, potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease in the long term may benefit from the new knowledge," he explained.
Scientists link ketones and sugars being the sources of energy of our brain. They delay the aging process because of ketones. When our blood sugar is low, ketones are produced by breaking down the fat in our system.
More research is needed before the claim that a high-fat diet could slow the aging of the brain, but the scientists admitted that their study yielded some breakthrough results that will surely help with further research.
Morten Scheibye-Knudsen, of the National Institute of Health, explained the results of the study, saying, "In cells from children with Cockayne syndrome, we have previously demonstrated that aging is a result of the cell repair mechanism being constantly active."
"It eats into the resources and causes the cell to age very quickly," Scheibye-Knudsen added. "We therefore hope that a diet with a high content of coconut oil or similar fats will have a beneficial effect, because the brain cells are given extra fuel and thus the strength to repair the damage."
The findings of the study were published in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism.