A diet high in saturated fat contributes to the development of depression-like behaviors in mice, and changes in the types and quantities of bacteria in the gut may be mediating those mood effects, according to a study by University of Copenhagen researchers published in PLOS One. The researchers also found that high-sucrose diets and high-fat diets actually had very different effects on gut bacteria and moods.
In the study, forty-two mice were randomly assigned to either a high-fat, high-sucrose or control diet for thirteen weeks and run through behavior tests and biological analyses. Mice on high-fat diets gained more weight, were less interested in burrowing, and had memory impairments, while these and other behavioral changes “were accompanied by a significant change in [gut microbiota] composition,” observed the researchers.
“In mice receiving a high-fat diet, our results suggests that a diet high in saturated fat contributes to development of depression-like behavior, and that changes in the [gut microbiota] may be considered a mediator,” they concluded. “Importantly, we show that fat and sucrose affect behavior differently and sometimes oppositely, and thus the proportion of fat and sugar in the diet should be paid more interest when designing behavioral studies.”
A Possible Link between Food and Mood: Dietary Impact on Gut Microbiota and Behavior in BALB/c Mice (Jørgensen, Bettina Pyndt et al. PLOS One. August 18, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0103398)