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Fast Facts: Brain Health
Obesity & Brain Health:
- We have found that blood pressure, BMI (body mass index), and fat around the waist are all linked to cognitive decline.
- Obesity, especially in midlife, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Both prediabetes and diabetes correlate with increased cognitive impairment over time and loss of brain matter on MRI.
Why Diet is Key:
- Mitochondria in cells take glucose (sugar) and lipids (fats) and process them into ATP energy, which fuels cellular processes in the body.
- Nerves can take unsaturated fats and easily turn them into ATP for cellular energy.
- Saturated fats are more difficult for nerve cells to process into energy. This results in an accumulation of toxic waste, injuring nerves and causing inflammation.
- Nerves in the brain are the most susceptible because they need to process the most energy.
- Saturated fats not only damage nerves but also surrounding support cells (glia) compounding negative effects.
- A diet rich in saturated fats causes inflammation and changes in cognitive function. This inflammation occurs after only 3 days and involves one of the primary immune cells of the brain, the microglia.
- A diet including unsaturated fats (including olive oil, nuts, avocado, and fish) is key to providing the nerves with the energy they need. Avoid saturated fats. Let’s keep our brains healthy!
The Positive Effects of Exercise on the Brain:
- Neurogenesis: exercise increases the birth of stem cells in the brain.
- Improved brain chemistry: exercise increases neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, which is deficient in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Increased glucose uptake, which is especially important for Alzheimer's patients.
- Plus many more!