A new study by the University of Copenhagen and the National Institute of Health has shown that “brain aging can be delayed in mice if they are placed on a high-fat diet.”

The scientists were studying Cockayne syndrome, but their results could affect a wide range of aging related conditions. Cockayne syndrome is a disorder that causes children to age more rapidly. Currently, most people with the condition don’t live past age twelve.

Scientists fed mice with Cockayne syndrome a diet high in fatty coconut oil, and found that their aging process was slowed down. How? Our brains require a constant supply of energy in the form of ketones. We can get ketones from sugar or, when our blood sugar is low, from fat stores that our body breaks down to produce more ketones. So when the mice had extra coconut oil, they had all the fatty brain fuel they needed, and the aging of their brains slowed.

“The study is good news for children with Cockayne syndrome,” said Professor Vilhelm Bohr, lead author on the study, adding “The findings… potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease… may benefit from the new knowledge [as well].”

The scientists hope to test if giving children with Cockayne syndrome a diet high in coconut oil will help slow their aging. If it works, they can then expand their research to test the effects of a high fat diet on other conditions related to brain aging.