Following a poor diet has been linked to a number of diseases and ailments in the recent times. These include increased risks of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and even poor mental health. Bad diets may not just wreck your waistline, but also spell doom for your brain power and memory, says a new study.The research says that following a poor diet can lead to cognitive decline and affect memory. For years health experts have stressed on the importance of including certain ‘brain foods’ in your diet, to protect the health of neurons and keep you sharp and alert. Junk foods and processed carbs have been known to adversely impact the health of the brain.
The study titled, “Perineuronal Nets: Plasticity, Protection, and Therapeutic Potential” was published in the journal Trends in Neuroscience and reveals a key link between diet and memory. Perineural Nets (PNNs) are structures that form a network around certain neurons in the brain. These PNNs are responsible for protecting the neurons and also play a role in deciding how the brain turns experiences into memories. PNNs can either help you forge new experiences by building neural pathways that make up long term memory or restrict the formation of new memories by maintaining existing connections. The study found that oxidative stress, caused by consuming a diet rich in saturated fats and junk foods, can affect vulnerable neurons, which are not enmeshed in these PNNs.
Junk foods are said to cause toxic inflammation, which can also damage these PNNs and the neurons that they protect. The study report says, “Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are extracellular matrix structures serving multiple functions, including regulating synaptic plasticity, stabilizing synapses, and protecting neurons from oxidative stress and neurotoxins. Through their physiological roles, PNNs are also involved in cognition – including encoding, maintaining, and updating memories. Removal of PNNs can render neurons vulnerable to damage – particularly in neurodegenerative conditions involving increased oxidative stress or neurotoxins.”