A new research now suggestst that a hormone in plants may reverse the brain damage caused by a high-fat diet.
Mice who were fed a fatty diet developed inflammation of the nervous system similar to that which occurs in Alzheimer's, according to a study by Jaume I University in Castelló de la Plana.
However, when their diets were supplemented with the plant hormone abscisic acid, the damage was reversed, the Spanish research adds.
Abscisic acid is thought to reduce inflammation in the region of the brain that is responsible for storing memories.
The researchers fed mice a high-fat diet and then analysed how this affected their insulin levels and the expression of genes that are associated with inflammation of the nervous system.
Results suggest rodents that consume a fatty diet have reduced expression of an insulin receptor in a region of the brain known as the hippocampus which is associated with emotions and memory, particularly long-term memories.
But supplementing the rodents' diets with abscisic acid reversed the inflammation.
Abscisic acid has many roles in plants, including seed development, flower growth and tolerance to harsh conditions, such as cold and drought.
The study was published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology and led by Professor Ana María Sánchez.
The researchers plan to investigate the common causes behind conditions like dementia and insulin resistance.
This is because inflammation of the nervous system is linked to insulin resistance.