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It’s been established that obesity is a form of premature aging.
Being obese has been linked with inflammaging, a term coined by scientists about two decades ago to refer to the way our bodies become progressively more inflamed as we age.
Inflammaging is thought to be behind a number of age-related conditions and diseases, including atherosclerosis, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer…
And Alzheimer’s disease.
But until recently, we had no idea how closely the actual brain of an obese person resembles the brain of someone with Alzheimer’s.
It’s quite scary.
Alzheimer’s and obesity shrink the same areas of the brain
Research has already shown a link between obesity and Alzheimer’s-like changes in the brain, including the buildup of amyloid-β plaque.
But now, researchers have taken a good, long look at how the brain’s grey matter changes in both obese people and in people with Alzheimer’s.
Scientists at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) of McGill University in Montreal sampled over 1300 people to compare patterns of grey matter atrophy in obesity and Alzheimer’s.
They compared Alzheimer’s patients with non-Alzheimer’s controls and the brains of obese people with non-obese people. In this way, they created “grey matter maps” for each group and were able to compare them.
What they found was startling. Patterns of grey matter (cortical) thinning between the groups were very similar.
For example, thinning in the right temporo-parietal cortex and left prefrontal cortex was similar in both groups.
Since cortical thinning may be a sign of neurodegeneration, this suggests that obesity may cause the same patterns of brain deterioration as those found in people with Alzheimer’s.
If the right parietal lobe is damaged, a person will have trouble with proprioception or sensing where parts of their body are. They may also find themselves unable to perform simple routine tasks like combing their hair or dressing. This is known as ataxia.
A person with damage to the prefrontal cortex may become aggressive or irritable and may perform poorly on tasks that require long-term planning.
Lose the weight now to avoid Alzheimer’s later
“Our results highlight the importance of decreasing weight in obese and overweight individuals in mid-life, to decrease the subsequent risk of neurodegeneration and dementia,” says Dr. Filip Morys, the study’s first author.
In other words, if you’re overweight or obese, getting your weight under control now could save you from the grip of Alzheimer’s.
Of course, there are myriad weight loss programs, strategies and promises out there. But the truth is it’s never easy and usually involves both diet and exercise.
But the Mediterranean diet can provide a double-whammy of support. Not only does it protect against weight gain, but it’s also heavy in nutrients that can help pump up the volume of a shrinking brain.
Fatty fish, a staple of the diet, are rich in brain-boosting omega-3s. And brain-saving omega-3s have been shown to improve brain structure, even in a middle-aged brain.
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!
Obesity-Associated Neurodegeneration Pattern Mimics Alzheimer’s Disease in an Observational Cohort Study — Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
A new study shows the effects of obesity mirror those of aging — Eureka Alert