November 01, 2008
Animal Fats Risk For Alzheimer's Disease?

A high animal fat diet boosts Alzheimer's related proteins in rats.

Quebec City, October 28, 2008—A team of Université Laval researchers has shown that the main neurological markers for Alzheimer's disease are exacerbated in the brains of mice fed a diet rich in animal fat and poor in omega-3s. Details of the study—which suggests that diets typical of most industrialized countries promote the development of Alzheimer's—are outlined in the latest online edition of Neurobiology of Aging.

To demonstrate this, the team led by Frédéric Calon used a type of transgenic mice that produce two proteins found in the brains of Alzheimer patients—tau proteins, which prevent proper neuron functioning, and amyloid-beta, associated with the formation of senile plaques within the brains of afflicted patients.

The researchers fed transgenic and regular mice different diets for nine months, after which they compared the effects on the animals' brains.

The mice whose diet was poor in omega-3s and rich in fat (60% of consumed calories) showed amyloid-beta and tau protein concentrations respectively 8.7 and 1.5 times higher than the control group mice, whose food contained 7 times less fat. The high-fat diet also reduced drebrin protein levels in the brain, another characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

I'd like to see this study repeated with other types of fats. Exactly which types of fats are okay? Monunsaturates and polyunsaturates of all types? Also, do all types of saturated fats boost tau and amyloid-beta proteins?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 November 01 10:54 PM  Aging Diet Brain Studies

Lou Pagnucco said at November 2, 2008 8:38 AM:

Two weeks ago, a medical news press release implicated overexpression of pro-inflammatory phophoslipase A2 (PLA2)
in the brains an animal model of Alzheimers.

"Alzheimer's Linked To Fatty Acids"

PLA2 is downregulated by omega-3s (DHA).
"Inhibitors of Brain Phospholipase A2 Activity: Their Neuropharmacological Effects and Therapeutic Importance
for the Treatment of Neurologic Disorders"

Maybe the omega-3 deficiency is at fault.

Randall Parker said at November 2, 2008 11:28 AM:


It would be good to know whether one can consumer more of other fatty acids as long as one gets enough omega 3's either in absolute amount or in ratio to the other fatty acids.

Also, I'd really like to know more about specific fatty acids. Is it the saturated fats as a group that are a problem or only specific saturated fats? Do the monounsaturates or polyunsaturates also pose a problem? I wish I knew.

My own suspicion is that monounsaturates are probably best out of the fats. The polyunsaturates probably generate more free radicals due to the larger number of less stable double bonds.

There's probably a genetic dimension to this as well. Which ratio of fats to proteins to carbo is ideal? Depends on your genes. Ditto on types of fats and types of carbo.

In said at November 2, 2008 5:43 PM:

Grass fed cattle have better fatty acid profiles, i.e. more omega 3s than factory farmed cattle.

The study sounds suspiciously like an attempt to uphold the low-fat anti-meat mainstream nutritionist orthodoxy.

Seems to me like eating meat may only be unhealthy when the meat supply is pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, and then fed a grain based diet mixed with ground animal parts; not to mention the unnatural and arguably cruel living conditions.

Lou Pagnucco said at November 2, 2008 6:57 PM:


I doubt there are any unqualified answers - there are too many confounding factors.

The following study study found that both dietary monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats reduced dementia rates:
"Dietary intake of unsaturated fatty acids and age-related cognitive decline: a 8.5-year follow-up of the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging"

The next paper found that saturated and (especially) trans-fat consumption was associated with Alzheimers,

In the following, omega-3s were protective, but cholesterol and saturated fats were risk factors.
"Dietary Fatty Acids May Reduce Risk of Cognitive Decline"

So I guess the bottom line is to eat fish, nuts, olives, avocados, ..., and avoid cookies, donuts, fried foods, sausages, etc. Getting more specific on dietary fats is just speculative, I think.

S said at November 3, 2008 10:46 PM:

I'm betting they'd find a high correlation with a high-glycemic diet also, especially if the diet included trans and saturated fats. I'm thinking since extra blood sugar is converted into triglycerides -- via the liver, and then not getting enough magnesium, zinc, copper, boron, manganese for calcium to get into the bones, that the calcium floats around in the blood, combining with the triglycerides and trans/sat fats to become arterial plaque.

I think the plaque causes: heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, kidney disease secondary to diabetes, erectile dysfunction, exacerbates Alzheimer's, and possibly nerve damage because, IIRC, the arteries that support nerves are very small and could get blocked much easier than larger arteries.

I'm waiting to see nutritionists suggesting to lower trans/sat fats and increase omega3s, decrease high-glycemic carbs, and increase bone-supporting supplements so that calcium goes into bones instead of floating around in the circulatory system to combine with trans/sat fats and high-glycemic induced triglycerides to plague up our circulatory systems.

But if the pharma conspiracy theories have any truth to them about high fat diets/cholesterol so they can hawk their anti-cholesterol drugs, then maybe we won't be seeing nutritionists promoting that type of healthy diet, even if my theory is true. Also, the sciences for diabetes would take a financial hit if that kind of diet were promoted.

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