A new study reveals high-fat meals have a different effect on male and female brains. Differences in male brains lead to greater inflammation and increased health risks in males who indulge on fatty foods in comparison to females.
According to the study in mice, it is probably ‘ok’ for females to occasionally have a high-fat meal, where it is not recommended for males.
Researcher Deborah Clegg of the Cedar-Sinai Diabetes And Obesity Research Institute in Los Angeles said that the way patients are treated and provided with dietary and nutritional advice should be altered.
She said that an occasional hamburger for women is of less concern, but for men, avoidance should be strongly encouraged, especially if they have pre-existing diseases such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
The findings suggested that inflammation in the brain is tied to overeating, blood sugar imbalances, and increased inflammation in other parts of the body, including fat tissue. Those effects can be triggered, in males in particular, by short-term exposure to a high-fat diet.
The researchers say they were initially shocked to discover that male and female brains differ in their fatty acid composition. When they manipulated male mouse brains to have the fatty acid profile of females, they found that those animals were protected from the ill effects of a diet high in fat.
When males with average male brains entered an inflammatory state after eating diets high in fat, they also suffered from reduced cardiac function in a way that female animals in the study did not. Those sex differences in the brain’s response to fat are related to differences between females and males in estrogen and estrogen receptor status.
The study was published in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports.