How Being Overweight May Contribute to Alzheimer's

A new study has found that people who carry the gene which has been definitively linked to obesity and overeating also tend to have smaller brains than the rest of the population. If it can be said that obesity causes the brain to shrink, then it follows that the risk of Alzheimer's later in life may be significantly increased. To state it more scientifically, those who carry the obesity gene mutation known as FTO had as much as 8 percent fewer cells in their frontal brain lobes, which happen to be the part of the brain used in making more complex judgments.

They also had 12 percent fewer brain cells in the part of the brain responsible for processing mental images, and the heavier the volunteers in the study, the more damage their brains showed. The faulty FTO gene is thought to cause people to overeat, and is carried by over fifty percent of white Europeans, but less than 15 percent of Asians. Although the neurologists who led the study were grilled extensively about whether the differences in brain size could have been due to by-products of being overweight, such as cholesterol, diabetes or hypertension, test after test linked the smaller brain size directly to being severely overweight. The bottom line seems to be that carrying this very prevalent FTO gene may not only add inches to your waistline, but can make your brain look as much as 16 years older.

How to Short-Circuit the FTO Gene and Avoid Alzheimer's

If you are overweight or obese, it is critical you begin eating a lower fat diet, full of plant proteins, lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables as well as beginning a regular exercise program. A study done in 2008 of a group of Amish people who carried the FTO gene but were very physically active showed they weighed about the same as non-carriers-results which suggest that physical activity can overcome the obesity predisposition. What this research suggests is that getting daily exercise and eating a nutritious diet, can save your brain from a stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

Where's the Fat?

Another recent study found that women who store fat on their waist once they reach middle age have a doubled risk of developing some form of dementia in their older age. Of course we've all heard that carrying significant amounts of fat around our middles put us statistically at a higher risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke, but if you somehow manage to dodge that health crisis, then be aware that you may be at risk for Alzheimer's further down the road.

What Will Future Generations Think?

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, and currently affects over 26 million people globally. While current "treatments" can ease the symptoms a bit, and possibly lessen some of the behavioral issues that come with Alzheimer's, there is no reversing or preventing this dreaded disease. You have to wonder if our future generations will look back on our modern-day America and ask themselves how on earth we could have eaten and drugged ourselves into such a sad state of physical and mental health.

Although the links between our lifestyle choices and the diseases which are killing more and more of us are really only beginning to be documented, most Americans seem to be paying little attention to the alarming research results. The bottom line is that America's obesity epidemic-which is growing by leaps and bounds-is not only causing clinical depression, heart attack, stroke and diabetes, but is putting us on the path of a wave of Alzheimer's disease which will likely reach epidemic proportions in the not-too-distant future. The bottom line is that a person with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and who is obese is more than 600% more likely to lose their healthy brain functions later in life.

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