Stress and Western diets increase vulnerability to neuropsychiatric disorders: A common mechanism.

Publication Cover“In modern lifestyle, stress and Western diets are two major environmental risk factors involved in the etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. Lifelong interactions between stress, Western diets, and how they can affect brain physiology, remain unknown.

A possible relation between dietary long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), endocannabinoids, and stress is proposed.

This review suggests that both Western diets and negative stress or distress increase n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio in the phospholipids of the plasma membrane in neurons, allowing an over-activation of the endocannabinoid system in the limbic areas that control emotions. As a consequence, an excitatory/inhibitory imbalance is induced, which may affect the ability to synchronize brain areas involved in the control of stress responses. These alterations increase vulnerability to neuropsychiatric disorders.

Accordingly, dietary intake of n-3 PUFA would counter the effects of stress on the brain of stressed subjects. In conclusion, this article proposes that PUFA, endocannabinoids, and stress form a unique system which is self-regulated in limbic areas which in turn controls the effects of stress on the brain throughout a lifetime.”

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