Belly Fat is Toxic to your Brain as Well as Your Body
belly fat coupleI have previously reported on the association between belly fat (visceral fat) and the increased risk for insulin resistance, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea and premature death.
As if that weren’t sufficient reason to flatten your stomach, that middle-aged bulge may also increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia later on in life.
Abdominal, or visceral, fat is stored inside the abdominal cavity attached to the greater omentum; a drape-like sheet covering the internal organs.  It is metabolically active and releases toxic chemicals (cytokines or adipokines) into the bloodstream causing increased inflammation, and has been implicated in causing many chronic diseases.
Obesity may increase adults’ risk for having dementia, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Obesity increases the risk of dementia in general by 42 percent, Alzheimer’s by 80 percent and vascular dementia by 73 percent, the May 2008 review of 10 previously published studies suggests.  “Our analysis of the data shows a clear association between obesity and an increased risk for dementia and several clinical subtypes of the disease,” said Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, senior author of the study and associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Center for Human Nutrition.
Another study, “Central Obesity and Increased risk of Dementia More Than Three Decades Later” published in the journal Neurology, March 2008 concluded that “A large belly, independent of total weight is a potent predictor of dementia”.  This study performed a logitudinal analysis of more than 6500 Kaiser permanente members who had visceral fat measurements between 1964 and 1973.  Subsequent medical record review 30 years later determined the diagnosis of dementia.  The results demonstrated an increased risk of dementia related to central obesity in midlife, independent of diabetes or cardiovascular comorbidities.
Some researchers belive the pathogenesis to be related to increased amyloid deposits in the central nervous system, promoted by the toxic cytokines released by visceral (belly) fat.  Obese individuals have demonstrated high amyloid levels i past research.
The good news is that belly fat is a modifiable risk factor.  Although one of the first places excess body fat is deposited, it is one of the last reservoirs that disappears when people are losing weight.  It cannot be specifically targeted, but can be reduced in the course of a program to improve your body composition.  Optimal body fat percentages for me are under 18% and for women under 24%.
Healthy lifestyle choices include the recommendations offered at Alternity healthcare:  interval-type resistance exercise, low-glycemic nutrition, appropriate nutritional supplements and bioidentical hormone balancing.  Resistance training is the best way for you to lose overall body and abdominal fat.  It promotes calorie buring during exercise and at rest.  Contrary to what many believe, dietary fat has little to do with how much fat your body stores. Biochemical science tells us it is related to the amount of excess sugsrs, including highly processed and refined carbohydrates that promotes accumulation of body fat.  Excess carbohydrates lead to high insulin levels and insulin is the body’s fat regulator.  High insulin levels signals the body to store those calories a fat (triglycerides).