One Major Cause of Brain Damage and Memory Loss

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

May 8, 2023


In medicine, it’s important to control the things you can control. This is especially important for brain issues and memory loss.

You can’t control a family history. You can’t always control accidents and the impact they have on your brain. And you can’t control all the toxins in the air.

But there is one major cause of brain issues and memory loss that you can control.

Obesity increases the risk for just about every disease there is. That includes age-related cognitive decline. But how does obesity affect brain function?

To learn more about how this works, scientists recently looked at what happens to brain cells when they’re exposed to a diet high enough in fat to cause obesity.

The researchers divided a group of mice into three groups. They fed the first and second groups a diet so high in fat that within three months they had become obese. They kept the first group on the high-fat diet for another two months. But they switched the second group to a low-fat diet for the next two months. The third group was put on a low-fat diet for the entire five months.

In only three months, the mice on the high-fat diet not only became obese, they also showed high levels of inflammation in their brains. Along with that, they also developed damaged synaptic connections.

Since brain cells talk to each other through their synaptic connections, that means the fat was destroying their brain communication. When they tested the memory of these mice, they found that it had become impaired.

When the researchers switched the mice in the second group to a low-fat, weight reduction program, things got better.

Within only two months, the inflammation had decreased and the damaged synaptic connections had significantly improved. Of course, the mice on the low-fat diet had none of these problems.

Most obesity is not caused by a diet too high in fat. Most obesity is caused by a diet too high in carbohydrates, particularly the high glycemic carbohydrates like grains and sugars. However, if you’re overweight and your diet consists of a lot of fat, you should take heed.

Switch to a lower-fat diet and make sure to take some of the good fats, EPA and DHA. These are the fats found in fish oils. EPA is anti-inflammatory. And DHA is critically important for overall brain function.


Hao, S., A. Dey, et al. “Dietary obesity reversibly induces synaptic stripping by microglia and impairs hippocampal plasticity.” Brain Behav Immun. 2015 August 31. pii: S0889-1591(15)30007-6.

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