Your Weight and Your Brain
Your Weight and Your Brain When it comes to brain health, keeping your weight stable may be the most important task of all.
Obesity, particularly when there’s lots of visceral fat present, is a risk factor for faster brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease, says Howard Fillit, M.D., co-founder and chief science officer at the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. Belly fat has been shown to:
Reduce blood flow to your brain, according to a 2020 study involving brain scans of more than 17,000 people. Researchers found that as weight went up, blood flow in the brain went down, including to areas vulnerable to developing Alzheimer’s.
Shrink your brain. Using MR1s, researchers from UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh who were obese had 8 percent less brain volume and brains that appeared 16 years older.
Reduce your cognitive abilities. An elevated body mass index (BMI) is directly associated with decreased attention, processing speed, and fine motor speed, according to a 2013 study. And in a 2016 study of 171 people with severe obesity, more than half met the criteria for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), even though their median age was only 43. At a follow-up 12 months later, the prevalence of MCI was reduced by nearly 49 percent in those who had undergone weight-loss surgery in the previous year. Protecting your brain means getting your weight under control. The MIND Diet, a mash-up of the heart-healthy Mediterranean and DASH diets, features lots of fruits and vegetables, plus lean protein and good fats like olive oil. You can still eat red meat, fast food and sweets, just limit your intake. People who most closely adhered to this eating pattern had a 53 percent lower rate of Alzheimer’s.
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