Have you resolved to slim down in 2019? Chances are you already know the health and beauty benefits of losing weight, but there is one more area that stands to gain when you lose: your brain. Losing belly fat, in particular, is linked to better brain health.
Researchers weigh-in: body shape and the brain
A recent research study of more than 5,000 adults age 60 and older showed that a large waist-to-hip ratio (“apple shape”) was more often aligned with poor scores on memory and thinking tests than was overall weight or body mass index.
Another group of researchers took a look at body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio and brain size of 9,600 people around the age of 55. By comparing brain scans (MRIs), they linked both high BMI and bigger belly size to smaller brain size.
What does belly fat have to do with your brain?
A big, bulging belly, or more affectionately called a “beer belly” or “spare tire”, is made of visceral fat. This troublesome fat develops from consuming too many calories and is located inside organs and between the organs of your stomach. It can produce harmful hormones and inflammation in the body leading to an increased risk of many health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and possibly dementia.
While scientists continue to explore the belly-brain connection, it’s a good idea to keep your weight, blood sugar and heart-related medical conditions in check to support brain health.
How do you whittle your waist?
The good news is that visceral fat breaks down more easily than other fat, so it will most likely be the first to go when you start to lose weight. According to experts sit-ups alone won’t cut-it. Eating a healthy diet with reasonable portion sizes and getting regular exercise, especially cardio and strength training, is the best way to lose belly fat.
Log-in and visit your Healthy Brains dashboard to calculate your body mass index and assess other medical conditions that impact brain health. To learn more about eating and exercise for a healthy weight, visit healthybrains.org.