Today, I have good news and I have better news. The good news? Trans fats make your brain smaller. The better news? Marijuana makes it bigger.
This is good news all the way around, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives you another good reason to stay away from trans fats, and that’s a plus because trans fats are often found in stuff you don’t want to eat anyway. Secondly, it gives you another good reason to smoke pot, and that’s a plus because … well, because it gives you another good reason to smoke pot.
And not only does marijuana apparently make your brain bigger, it’s also way more fun than trans fats. Don’t take my word for it – compare the dude wearing a Bob Marley t-shirt and driving a bio-diesel VW bus to the guy wearing Sansabelt slacks and eating a bag of Funyuns and see who looks happier. I rest my case.
Seriously, though – the Oregon Brain Aging Study, launched in 1989, followed 104 people ages 65 and older. Researchers checked participants’ blood samples for markers of 30 different nutrients. Participants also did a raft of neuropsychological tests, and 42 had MRI scans of their brains as well.
Researchers were interested in three things: cognitive function, total brain volume and white-matter changes that are thought to be a sign of small vessel disease of the brain.
They found that people who consume lots of trans fats are more likely to experience the kind of brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease than people who don’t. They also had poorer memory, shorter attention spans, and were more likely to laugh at Michael Cera movies.
Conversely, people with higher levels of omega three fatty acids were better at planning, problem-solving and multi-tasking. They were also a lot more fun to talk to at parties.
If you fear that your brain has shrunk from trans fat abuse, don’t despair – new research suggests that marijuana may be like pumping iron for your gray matter.
Neuropsychologist Xia Zhang and a team of researchers based at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, wanted to find out just how marijuana-like drugs act on the brain.
The researchers injected rats with HU210. This synthetic drug is about one hundred times as powerful as THC – the stuff in weed that makes you walk through the house five times to make sure the oven is turned off – or about half the strength of what Willie Nelson smokes for breakfast.
To their surprise, they found that HU210 seemed to induce new brain-cell growth. Even more surprising was the discovery that these new cells immediately wanted to go to Taco Bell, but couldn’t find their car keys.
Although his findings point to potential benefits of smoking pot, Zhang says that he does not endorse its use. “Marijuana has been used for medicine and recreation for thousands of years,” he says. “But it can also lead to addiction.”
Even worse, it can make you laugh at Michael Cera movies.