Diet is an intrinsic aspect of everyday life and is emerging as a major regulator of brain function and plasticity.
The increasing consumption of saturated fats and sugars as is typical of a Western diet is considered detrimental for CNS function; however, based on the high content of lipids in brain, how to manage consumption of dietary fats for optimal CNS health is controversial.
In a newly published research paper Mayo Clinic Associate Professor of Physiology Isobel A. Scarisbrick, Ph.D. and her co-authors investigate the relationship between fat, exercise and Myelin.
Myelin is essential to the conduction of nerve impulses in the brain and spinal cord and myelin loss is a key pathophysiological component of neurological injury and disease, including multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, stroke and certain neuropsychiatric disorders.
The loss of myelin is also a recognized part of normal aging and a risk factor in obesity contributing to cognitive and sensorimotor decline.
Findings suggest that the central nervous system is capable of adapting to the demands of a high-energy Western diet when afforded ample exercise, by increasing insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling and the expression of silent mating type information regulation 2 homolog (SIRT1), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1_), and free radical scavengers.
These key changes in critical regulators of metabolism may provide protection to myelinating cells and their progenitors resulting in increases in myelin.
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