ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Researchers are finding a potential link between visceral fat and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A new study conducted by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has discovered that individuals in their 40s and 50s with larger amounts of hidden belly fat are more likely to have an abnormal protein called amyloid in a part of the brain associated with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The study also found a correlation between deep belly fat and brain atrophy in the memory centers of the brain.
As researchers delved deeper into the study, they found that the individuals with higher amounts of visceral fat tend to have more inflammation in widespread white matter tracks in the brain. The brain’s gray matter contains the majority of brain cells that tell the body what to do. Without a functional white matter highway, the brain cannot adequately communicate with different parts of the brain and the body. This potential link between inflammation from belly fat and the parts of the brain where Alzheimer’s originates has significant implications for early detection and intervention.
According to Dr. Cyrus Raji, lead author of the study, these revelations are significant because they are shedding light on the subtler manifestations of abnormalities that can be related to Alzheimer’s pathology. The study showed that even very subtle effects are detectable in midlife, offering new opportunities to identify and potentially intervene in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Based on these findings, experts recommend measuring visceral fat to determine health risks associated with it. For women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or more could signal health problems stemming from visceral fat, while for men, the threshold is 40 inches or more. The study also found that visceral fat responds well to diet and exercise, making it easier to lose than subcutaneous fat. Moreover, experts suggest a healthy diet, regular exercise, muscle strength training, and reducing processed foods, sugary drinks, processed meats, and high-fat dairy products to help reduce visceral fat.
In conclusion, the potential link between visceral fat and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease is a significant discovery that could pave the way for early detection and intervention in individuals at risk for the disease. As researchers continue to explore this connection, the findings offer new insights into the potential impact of diet and exercise on brain health.