A new study found that a long-term high-fat diet may cause metabolic dysregulation like diabetes, and over time can lead to cognitive dysfunction. Does that mean you should adopt a low-fat diet? Or, is your keto diet going to lead to problems down the road? Here's what the study says—and maybe more importantly, doesn't say.
In the study, researchers separated mice into two groups: one would be fed a high-fat diet, and the other would receive a normal diet. They measured their food intake weekly, and every two weeks measured their body weight and blood sugar. They also tested periodically for anxiety, depression and cognitive dysfunction.
The researchers found that the high-fat group developed glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. These mice also developed depression-like behavior patterns and cognitive impairment.
While this study points to possible connections to humans, there are a few shortcomings.
First, the study was conducted on mice. While animal studies can point to cause-and-effect relationships in humans, mice do not have the same biology as humans and they don't always translate perfectly. So, it's impossible to say for sure that a high-fat diet will have the same effects in people.
Second, the mice in the study were fed a very high-fat diet - much higher than what most people would eat on a keto diet.
Additionally, the mice selected for this study were genetically predisposed to obesity. Not every human has the genetic profile of an obese person, so it's not a representative sample. Also, there could be other factors that link these genetic traits to metabolic and cognitive function.
Third, the study doesn't make any distinction between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Fats from certain food sources, like nuts and avocados, are actually good for you and can contribute to heart, brain, and metabolic health if eaten in proper proportions. Other fats, like the trans fats found in processed foods, can lead to problems if consumed in excess. This study lumps it all together as "high-fat."
So, what does this study really tell us? Well, it's possible that a high-fat diet could lead to health problems down the road. But we can't say for sure.
This is an example of a study that makes for great headlines, but it's easy for general audiences to miss the nuance. After unpacking a few of the ways the study could be confusing, it's clearer that more research is needed on the topic.
So, what should you take away from this? The basic rules of good nutrition stay the same: The best approach is to choose whole, natural foods. After having a lot of fats from whole food sources, your body will start to signal for you to eat fresher, lower-fat foods. This is because your body knows how to handle the fats from whole foods better.
Processed foods, on the other hand, can be difficult for your body to understand. A lot of higher-fat processed foods contain a lot of sugar and salt to make you crave them and eat way too much.
You can't go wrong by piling your plate with vegetables, adding some quality protein, being mindful that you're getting fiber, watching your sugar intake, and making sure to source healthy fats from whole, natural foods that are as close to earth-grown as possible. If you eat that way most of the time, you'll start to look and feel your best, and you'll have room for the occasional treat when the occasion calls for it.
Do you have a sweet tooth but also have a goal to not consume sugar? Make the switch to all-natural, Monkfruit-Sweetened treats and snacks.