Carrying around a spare tire? Excessive abdominal fat linked to SHOCKING problem for the brain, stunning research reveals
(NaturalHealth365) Overweight and obesity are not unusual phenomenons within the Western world. For example, in the United States, you’re actually MORE likely to meet a person carrying around extra body fat than not, with about 75% of adult males, 60% of adult females, and 30% of children falling into the overweight or obese category.
These figures are shocking, to say the least. But perhaps what’s more shocking is recent research published by the American Academy of Neurology. A team of researchers discovered something extremely unusual in people with greater amounts of abdominal fat…
Their brains were actually smaller.
New research reveals the shocking association between obesity and brain health
The researchers of this just-published study analyzed brain MRI imaging of 9,652 people, 19% of whom were obese or overweight (they measured body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and total fat mass to help determine this). And it turns out that having a high BMI plus high waist-to-hip ratio (indicating greater amount of abdominal fat) makes you more likely to have lower gray matter volume in your brain.
If you’re wondering, gray matter contains a majority of the nerve cells in your brain and is important for everything from self-control to physical movement. Loss of gray matter and overall brain shrinkage is associated with things like dementia and other cognitive health problems.
Incredibly, these changes remained even after the researchers adjusted for other factors known to affect brain mass, including age, physical activity levels, high blood pressure, and smoking. They conclude: “The combination of heightened BMI and WHR may be an important risk factor for gray matter atrophy.”
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While the researchers acknowledge that they have a bit of the “chicken or the egg” conundrum – ‘did the brain shrinkage lead to obesity or did obesity lead to brain shrinkage?’ – we certainly think it’s reasonable to assume the latter, considering that we know so many other ways being overweight can impact brain health and mental function.
Other surprising ways abdominal fat impacts your brain function
Having excess body fat is linked with an increased risk for serious health conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. But it also can hurt your head, too!
For instance, being overweight has been shown to:
- Lead to a “tolerance” to sugary and fried foods (much like people who use drugs become tolerant to their drug of choice, and need more and more of it to get the same high-inducing effects), which is believed to be a major driver of food addiction
- Decrease the size of a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex (necessary for controlling impulsivity), which can lead to uncontrolled eating
- Impair memory, likely due to hormones released by fat cells that triggre inflammation and damage tissues
The takeaway here is simple and direct: maintaining a lean body weight is literally good for you from head to toe. So, commit to a balanced whole foods (organic) diet; stay physically active – on a regular basis; and do everything you can to reduce the level of (chronic) stress you experience.
Remember, you deserve to be happy, healthy and energetic – all the days of your life.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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