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Curtin Professor finds dietary key in preventing Alzheimer’s

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Watching what you eat has never been more important in light of new research linking fat intake and brain disease.

Curtin Professor John Mamo found a diet high in saturated fats can significantly increase the likelihood of a person developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor John Mamo, the National Director of the Australian Technology Network’s Centre for Metabolic Fitness at Curtin, said reducing saturated fat consumption can help prevent, manage and maybe even reverse the affects of Alzheimer’s.

‘At an individual level, if you could avoid or remove environmental neural toxins, prevention and healing can occur, it can switch the body from insult to repair,’ Professor Mamo said.

Research found saturated fats damaged the lining of blood vessel walls and caused a leakage of unwanted substances into the brain.

‘The blood vessel wall acts like a barrier, it is very selective and only lets in certain nutrients into the brain,’ he said.

‘We found that a diet high in saturated fats caused this barrier to be damaged, allowing proteins like amyloid, not normally allowed in the brain, to leak through’

‘Amyloid deposits in the brain lead to inflammation and cell death, and this is what causes Alzheimer’s.’

Professor Mamo said research into Alzheimer’s so far has been palliative and more needs to be done.

‘I think sometimes we treat Alzheimer’s like terminal cancer and that’s not sufficient,’ he said.

‘We to be more aggressive, we can do things using drugs and diet, we need to be more helpful.’

While the importance of diet is well established in other areas of disease such as cardiovascular disease, Professor Mamo’s work is a breakthrough for neurology.

‘There have also been some interesting observations on the role of diet and nutrition in other brain disorders such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis,’ he said.

‘Although the linkage is difficult to explain as yet, it is an area that is being explored.’

The research paper will be published by the British Journal of Nutrition later this year.

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