You may not be healthy by eating fatty foods, but you may boost your memory in the process. A team of researchers at the University of California, Irvine has discovered that oleic acids from fats are converted into a memory-enhancing agent in the gut.
This doesn’t mean experts will recommend fatty foods. But it could lead to a new way to treat memory-related problems. Drugs that could mimic the action of the compound are in trials.
In addition, there’s evidence that shows high levels of oleoylethanolamide (OEA) can reduce appetite, produce weight loss, and lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Dr. Daniele Piomelli and his team discovered that OEA also causes memories to be laid down by activating memory-enhancing signals in the amygdala – the part of the brain involved with memories of emotional events.
“Better understanding of how memories are formed could lead to new treatments that help the brain when it becomes affected by Alzheimer’s,” says Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust.
Dr. Daniele Piomelli says that there’s an evolutionary explanation for the memory-boosting OEA.
“By helping mammals remember where and when they have eaten a fatty meal, OEA’s memory-enhancing activity seems to have been an important evolutionary tool for early humans and other animals,” says Dr. Piomelli. “Remembering the location and context of a fatty meal was probably an important survival mechanism for early humans.”
“Clariyfing the role of OEA in human food consumption will add to our understanding of the development of the obesity epidemic,” says Professor Harald Hansen, of The Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences, in Copenhagen. “Such knowledge may possibly also help us develop drug candidates for treating morbid obesity.”
May 2nd, 2009