New Research on Body Weight & Brain Health

New Research on Body Weight & Brain Health

Our mission at Big Brain Place is simple. We believe that everyone, at any age, can have a bigger, better brain. And that we want our brainspan to match our lifespan. We want to do our part to make that happen.

Researchers Find Failure to Maintain Healthy Body Weight Hurts Brain

About 1 out of every 10 Americans has type 2 diabetes. We found an important new study on diabetes and brain health, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  Using a base sample of 1,089 participants, with an average age of 58, the researchers looked for changes in cognition as a result of weight loss for type 2 diabetes sufferers. They also used information from the Look Ahead (Action for Health in Diabetes) Study, which provided information from 5,000 additional participants with type 2 diabetes. Those additional participants ranged in age from 45 to 76.

The core group of 1,089 took a series of cognition tests at the beginning, then began an intensive lifestyle intervention. The program consisted of three parts: calorie management to 1,200 to 1,800 per day, exercise of 175 minutes per week, and social support. The overall goal was to reduce body weight by seven percent in one year and maintain that lower weight.

 It is the quintessential good news/bad news story.

The good news. Study author Owen Carmichael, PhD and Associate Professor & Director of the Brain and Metabolism Imaging in Chronic Disease Lab at LSU, noted:

Every little improvement in blood sugar control was associated with a little better cognition. Lowering your blood sugar from the diabetes range to the prediabetes range helped as much as prediabetes to the healthy range.

People who lost more weight improved their executive function skills: short-term memory, planning, impulse control, attention and the ability to switch between tasks. However, their overall memory retention worsened.

The bad news. Results were worse for people who were obese (not just fat; medically obese, that is, a body mass index (BMI) over 30). Again from Dr. Carmichael:

The results were worse for people who had obesity at the beginning of the study. (Our emphasis). That’s a ‘too little, too late’ type of message. People with diabetes who let their obesity go too far, for too long may be past the point of no return, cognition-wise.         

If you are interested in checking your own BMI, here is a link to the CDC discussion of Body Mass Index with a table by height.

And Then There Are Renegade Microglia

We previously discussed the scientific finding of a link between obesity and renegade microglia. That is, important nerve cells in our brains can spin out of control and instead of taking care of brain health, actually damage the brain. Link to that discussion here.

 A reminder: no one at Big Brain Place is a medical researcher, much less a medical doctor or medical professional of any type. If there is something on that risk list that gets your attention, discuss it with your physician pronto.

More Brain-Building Ideas

I founded Big Brain Place because I saw how fast science is discovering the secrets to brain health, and realized how little I knew about it. Clearly I couldn't be the only one not familiar with the possible actions that can optimize brain health.  At www.BigBrain.Place, we are on a mission to help everyone, at any age, improve cognition, reduce the risk of dementia, insure our children have the opportunity to develop maximum brain capacity, and, in general, make our brainspans match our lifespans.

Are you taking the steps now to prevent dementia later in life?

Could you use some science-based brain building ideas?

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