A high-fat diet can put off certain ageing processes like impaired hearing and weight loss in mice, research suggests.

The project headed by the Centre for Healthy Ageing, University of Copenhagen, and the National Institute of Health, saw mice having Cockayne defect fed on a diet with a high content of coconut oil. The mice visibly improved in certain brain functions, says a university press release.

The disorder in the DNA leads to premature ageing of children who then die at the age of 10-12 years.

The study suggests that a high-fat diet seems to postpone the ageing of the brain. "The findings therefore potentially imply that patients with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease in the long term may benefit from the new knowledge," said Professor Vilhelm Bohr who headed the study.

In its functioning, the brain requires to constantly use fuel in the form of either sugar or ketones. Ketones act as the brain's fuel reserve. The body breaks down fat if it needs sugar, and during this process it produces ketones.

The researchers saw a positive effect when the mice were given medium chain fatty acids, in this case, from coconut oil.

Cells in our body work to repair damage to DNA but this function is hampered as the body ages. As the body ages, the cells are constantly active in the repair mechanism, causing the cells in turn to age very quickly.

This is when a high content of coconut oil delivers extra fuel and helps the cells, said post-doctoral student Morten Scheibye-Knudsen from the National Institute of Health.

The study has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.