There are several reasons why a high-fat diet is bad for human health, including the fact that it may fuel cancer cells and cause despair. Penn State College of Medicine scientists have shown that high-fat diets have long-term negative impacts, including changes in brain cells that control stomach fullness and emptying in rats. Once just two weeks on a high-fat diet, these cells stopped functioning normally in the mouse research, obstructing the route that leads to a reduction in calorie intake after the stomach is full.
All all, 205 rats participated in the research, with some serving as controls and others as experimental subjects. Dietary norms were maintained in the control groups, whereas a high-fat, high-calorie meal was administered to the experimental ones. Both sets of rats continued their meals for 1, 3, 5, or 14 days.
After that, they tracked how the diets affected astrocytes, the brain’s giant, multi-branched cells. Although they are not neurons, these cells can control neuron activity. It has been discovered that they are involved in Parkinson’s disease and that their activity may both exacerbate and alleviate inflammation.
The capacity of astrocytes to activate the neurological networks that regulate stomach expansion and contraction in response to eating was investigated. These substances, called gliotransmitters, are secreted by astrocytes. After three to five days on the high fat/calorie diet, the astrocytes were found to be at their most active, doing their job properly to reduce food intake after a meal. But sometime around day 10, cell dysfunction was already apparent.
Obesity may result from a breakdown in the mechanisms that regulate satiety after eating. The impacts of fat on astrocytes were detected, but the researchers are still unsure exactly how this mechanism fits into the overeating paradigm. Also, scientists aren’t sure whether what they saw in rats applies to people, so they say more research is needed.