Communication Breakdown

Is fat LITERAL food for thought?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Our brain is filled with billions of neurons that are constantly talking to each other. What helps speed up these conversations? Fatty layers of cholesterol called myelin. 

But diseases like Multiple Sclerosis cause the body to destroy myelin, severely slowing down communications. Think: 5G versus Telex. But can myelin be replaced? 

Dr. Gesine Saher and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute investigated a dietary solution. Squalene is a fat that is naturally produced in our bodies and can help make cholesterol. Fortunately, it’s also found in foods we love, like fish and veggies. 

The team tested whether adding a dash of extra squalene to food could help mice with nerve damage. 

Amazingly, squalene improved cholesterol production and repaired damaged neurons! This study suggests that humans with these diseases may benefit from a squalene-rich diet. 

So go ahead and drizzle on that olive oil! Because myelin should be the ONLY thing getting on your nerves.

Reference: Berghoff, Stefan A., Lena Spieth, Ting Sun, Leon Hosang, Lennart Schlaphoff, Constanze Depp, Tim Düking, et al. “Microglia Facilitate Repair of Demyelinated Lesions via Post-Squalene Sterol Synthesis.” Nature Neuroscience 24, no. 1 (2021): 47–60.