Research links Alzheimer’s and Dementia with Being Overweight

Here is the startling bottom line: Heavy people’s brains may age faster.

If you’re overweight or obese in middle age, it can have a devastating effect on your health by causing you to age far faster than normal. According to a study from the San Francisco VA Medical Center, being overweight in your 40s and 50s causes a lower level of certain brain chemicals that signal good brain health and function. Without these chemicals, the brain’s aging process speeds up, putting you at a significantly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The study: Led by Dr. Stefan Gazdzinski, the researchers examined magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans from 50 healthy middle-aged men and women, measuring amounts of a variety of chemicals in the white and gray matter of the brain, reports Reuters. Bodies of nerve cells make up the gray matter, while connections between these cells make up the white matter. Of the 50 participants, five were obese, 15 were overweight and 30 were of normal weight.

The results: The higher a person’s body mass index (BMI), the ratio of body height to weight, the lower the concentration of N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA), a brain chemical that serves several functions and also acts as a marker for overall brain health, in the white matter of the brain’s frontal, temporal and parietal regions, reports Reuters. In addition, overweight and obese people had less NAA in their frontal gray matter, as well as smaller concentrations of choline-containing metabolite, which are substances that are key to the formation of cell membranes, in their frontal white matter.

The strongest relationship between BMI and brain chemistry was seen in the white matter of the frontal region, which is believed to be particularly vulnerable to aging-related damage, reports Reuters.

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Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

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