As many of you know, our brains are predominantly fat.
That’s why certain medications—like statins, which reduce cholesterol—may be detrimental to brain health.
And while I advocate for a high-fat, low-carb diet…
That doesn’t translate to higher body fat.
In fact, according to a recent study, an expanding waistline could be SHRINKING your brain…
Higher fat, lower brain volume
New research reveals a strong link between abdominal fat and reduced brain volumes, particularly in areas involved with cognitive function.
In a large study published in the journal Aging and Disease, researchers analyzed the effect of visceral and subcutaneous abdominal fat on brain health in healthy, middle-aged adults. (They looked at a broad age group—20 to 80.)
(Visceral fat is hidden deep within your abdomen and surrounds organs, whereas subcutaneous fat is closer to the surface, under your skin.)
Researchers found that higher amounts of both types predicted lower total gray and white matter volume. (White matter helps with processing and gray matter plays a role in memory.) It also reduced volume in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes.
Those are quite dramatic findings. So, let’s take a step back…
Make your weight a priority
This is NOT the first study to note a relationship between obesity and cognitive decline.
So, why do the researchers call for more data to “discover possible interventions targeting abdominal fat reduction as a strategy to maintain brain health”?
Isn’t that intervention called, oh I don’t know… DIETING?
There’s an entire industry linked to helping people lose weight, only to regain it over and over again. But, wouldn’t all of these research dollars be better spent on figuring out how to help people maintain their weight loss—or better yet, maintain a healthy weight throughout their life?
With the obesity epidemic raging—which, according to research, will only increase rates of mild cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s—I can’t help but think that everyone’s bad behavior (poor dietary habits) is, at least, in part to blame.
Let me ask you this…
Is dementia one more thing you’re willing to cope with because you’re not willing to give up cheap, processed food?
I hope not.
That’s why I’ll always advocate for a healthy, balanced diet—full of lean protein (from grass-fed and -finished meat and wild-caught fish and seafood), healthy fats (from sources like macadamia nuts, avocadoes, and eggs), and fresh produce (lots of dark, leafy greens and some seasonal fruit).
For additional ways to help protect and restore memory, strengthen focus, and fight dementia, check out my online learning tool, my Alzheimer’s Prevention and Treatment Plan.
P.S. In some encouraging news, the Alzheimer’s Association is leading a two-year clinical trial known as U.S. POINTER to determine whether combining physical activity, healthy nutrition, social and intellectual challenges, and improved self-management of medical conditions can protective cognitive function in older adults at risk for dementia.
“Abdominal Fat Linked to Lower Brain Volume in Midlife.” Medscape, 09/05/2023. (medscape.com/viewarticle/996104)