The Urban Dictionary defines “fat-head syndrome” as someone who acts like a blowhard. But researchers at Louisiana State University’s Inflammation and Neurodegeneration Laboratory have found that a diet high in saturated fat (more than 13 percent of calories from sat fat) can cause a lot more than a bad case of know-it-all-itis! It affects your brain, and that leads to anxiety, memory problems and other not-so-great changes in behavior.
Working in the lab, researchers transplanted gut bacteria from mice that ate a high-sat-fat diet into thin mice that ate a low-fat diet. Lo and behold, the thin mice developed brain inflammation and had behavior changes that were the same as those of their sat-fat-munching buddies.
What does this mean for you? There’s every reason to think that even if you’re not overweight, eating a diet high in saturated fat throws your gut bacteria way off balance and puts you at risk for bodywide inflammation. That means you’re in for heart and immune system problems, and brain inflammation that can affect your behavior and emotional well-being.
A moderate amount of fat is essential for your good health, but it has to be the right kind: mono- and polyunsaturated, and the odd fatty omega acids 3 and 9. So aim for, at most, 25 percent of your daily calories from healthy fats. And make sure that of a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, no more than 2 percent to 6 percent of your calories (max 120) come from saturated fat. You’ll be healthier and happier!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.