Monday, August 17, 2009

Ah, Rats!

Fatty Foods. We know two things—many fatty foods are really tasty, and they’re really bad for us. Now, we know even more—eating fatty food seems to take a toll on short-term memory and exercise performance. We learned this from a study using rats, reported in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

The study found that a fatty diet affected the brains and bodies of rats in just a few days, even before the extra pounds showed up. The theory is that a high-fat diet can trigger insulin resistance, so the body becomes less efficient at using the blood sugar (glucose) that’s important to brain function. The effects on exercise efficiency were thought to be due to the body’s reaction to high fat content in the blood by releasing certain proteins that make metabolism less efficient, thereby making muscles less efficient at using oxygen and fuel to create energy.

The study’s lead author, Andrew Murray, a lecturer in physiology at Cambridge University, said researchers also performed similar tests on healthy humans, and that the short-term effect of a fatty diet on humans “appears to be similar to that found in the rat studies.” Dr. Murray goes on to say that the impact of these findings is particularly relevant to those people who don’t worry about occasional binging on fatty foods—because they are physically active and exercise regularly. Evidently, that’s not good enough to ward off the short-term evils of a high-fat diet.

So, here’s the question. We’re all in this “rat race” together. Why would we want to deliberately limit our potential and performance?

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