From the past centuries to this day, there have been various myths related to foods and their impact on the health. Many times foods which are good for any person were considered unhealthy while the unhealthy ones were consumed widely.
Looking at things nowadays, there are still some common misconceptions. The different foods which got a bad name but are actually healthy are the ones containing healthy fats. For the longest time, the health industry cited fats as essentially harmful.
Going back a few years, one is likely to see the aisles in grocery stores filled with low-fat and fat-free snacks and foods and they are still present in an abundant amount in the majority of the stores as well as sold in a very high number.
In a similar way, fats were assumed to increase the risk of dementia. In the light of the recent studies, healthy fats and good cholesterol are needed for a good neurological, psychological, and brain health while there is no evidence to support the view that they lead to the development of dementia.
Are fats harmful in any other way?
Cholesterol and fats that come from foods such as eggs are required for an overall good health but most people tend to consume both with the effects of LDL or bad cholesterol and trans fats from different processed foods.
Processed foods that are filled with empty calories, high amounts of harmful fats and bad cholesterol including deep-fried foods, refined oils, sugary carbohydrates, and processed meats should be indeed avoided as they can cause serious health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and more.
As mentioned before, healthy fats and good cholesterol are healthy and cannot only bring a lot of advantages but help in decreasing HDL and high cholesterol levels.
Contrary to the older beliefs, these do not clog the arteries or damage the functioning of the brain leading to dementia.
What do the latest studies tell?
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted by researchers at the Institute of Public Health and Nutrition at Nutrition of Eastern Finland has looked at the link between fats and the psychological and mental health.
The research discovered that the old myth of fats and cholesterol from eggs and other sources do not increase the risk of any psychological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In fact, the researchers found something quite opposite.
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that consuming a high amount of eggs actually lead to an enhanced performance on neuropsychological tests of executive functioning as well as the frontal lobe.
The main focus of the study was on the ways previous observations linked egg intake along with healthy fats and cholesterol with cognitive performance and disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Around 2,497 people who belonged to the middle-age and older age groups from Eastern Finland were studied. The men in the studied were seen to have apolipoprotein E or Apo-E phenotype. The Apo-E phenotype is sometimes linked to a higher risk of cognitive disorders such as dementia.
According to a report by Alzheimer’s News Today, the APOE4 is present in a high number of people in Finland. Nearly one-third of the population is said to carry APOE4.
What did the study find?
The study was carried out for about 22 years and continued to look at the diets of the people involved. After a long time, 226 men had Alzheimer’s and 337 men were diagnosed with dementia.
However, the Apo-E4 phenotype did not change the links of the eggs eaten or cholesterol. Hence, the people that were expected to develop dementia did not have a higher risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s in comparison with others.
The final conclusion of the study was that eggs and cholesterol did not lead to an increase in the risk of cognitive disorders or dementia. Instead, a normal amount of eggs in the diet enhanced the brain performance in the studied men.
See the full study here.
In addition to this study, there also have been many others conducted specifically to study the effects of healthy fats or cholesterol from eggs and similar sources on the body. They are observed to safeguard many of the body’s function and processes.
A study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry studied people belonging to older age groups and their healthy fat intake from sources such as mixed nuts and olive oil.
The conclusion was that the elderly people who had a higher intake of healthy fats had a better psychological health and cognitive function than those who did not over the time period of six months.
Secondly, in accordance with an article on Science Daily, high healthy fats diet such as Mediterranean diets are better for the elderly people in order to maintain their cognitive function and brain power than fats with a low level of fat.
What is the main reason for an increased risk of dementia and cognitive disorders?
The latest research on different health conditions and diseases has seen inflammation to be the root cause of most of them including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease as well as many others.
While low levels of inflammation can be beneficial for the body and can trigger quick responses and healing in the body, high levels of it can have opposite effects and are tied to serious health conditions such as cancer, coronary artery diseases, and diabetes.
Another factor which might play an important role in determining the chances of having cognitive disorders and dementia is genetics. Genetics and family history of memory loss or any other health condition can influence the genes in the future generations.
Health conditions due to genetics and family history are hard and almost impossible to avoid. Therefore, learning about the disease and managing it well to stop it from developing into a serious stage is the solution.
What can be done?
In other cases, it is recommended to consume a diet that is not filled with inflammatory foods which can possibly increase the levels of inflammation in the body to decrease the risk of many of the mentioned health conditions.
Other things to do to avoid inflammation and an increase in chances of getting dementia or other health conditions include improving the health of the gut and maintaining normal blood sugar.
Some of the researchers have recently linked the increased chances for many concerns related to health to the condition of the gut and the gut bacteria known as gut microbiota.
Changes in the gut bacteria can disturb the flow of neurotransmitters such as GABA that is an essential chemical in the regulation of moods, nerve activity, memory, brain waves and stability leading to disrupted psychological health.
On the other hand, keeping the levels of blood sugar is important to keep inflammation in the bloodstream low and to avoid diabetes type 2 which is a health condition that often affects cognition and mental health.
While following all of these instructions, make sure to keep the levels of stress in check as it is one of the major reasons behind many of the cognitive and mental disorders and issues like anxiety and depression.
Stress can also cause alterations in neurotransmitters and increase inflammation in the whole of the body. Managing stress can greatly improve general health in addition to decreasing the chances of developing health conditions.
Try to take some time out of the day and indulge in some relaxing activity such as reading, meditating, taking a walk outside, or anything that helps in keeping stress away. By following all of these and consuming a moderate amount of eggs, the risk of dementia is considerably decreased.