Having an big stomach or excess fat is said to be a symptom of metabolic syndrome, tied to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, just to name a few. Recent research says dementia and memory loss are similarly increased with the size of your tummy, and scientists in this latest study think they know why.
People with a large amount of abdominal fat are three and a half times more likely to develop memory loss and dementia, according to researchers with Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. They point to a protein called PPARalpha as a potential reason.
People with fat midsections have lower amounts of PPARalpha. The protein controls fat metabolism in the liver but is also found in the hippocampus, where memory and learning are controlled. Carrying excess abdominal fat results initially in depleted PPARalpha levels in the liver, and ultimately in the brain.
“We need to better understand how fat is connected to memory and learning so that we can develop effective approach to protect memory and learning,” said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center.
The researchers believe their findings could ultimately aid in the development of dementia prevention and treatment mechanisms.
“While PPARalpha deficient mice are poor in learning and memory, injection of PPARa to the hippocampus improves learning and memory,” said Dr. Kalipada Pahan. “Our study indicates that people may suffer from memory-related problems only when they lose PPARalpha in the hippocampus…Further research must be conducted to see how we could potentially maintain normal PPARalpha in the brain in order to be resistant to memory loss.”
Pahan’s statements allude to a potential medical treatment including PPARa in the future. However, a far better solution would be in preventing the decline of PPARa in the first place. In other words, avoiding the abdominal fat that leads to PPARalpha depletion could prevent age-related dementia.
If this research goes in the way of so many other studies these days, the scientists will develop an injection or pill that can be provided to people with large bellies in order to stop the decimation of this neuro-protective protein.
While putting the money into real obesity prevention (education, money for organic farmers, etc.) would likely be effective at improving overall health, it doesn’t make cents so it doesn’t make sense. Instead, the food system creates disease and medical corporations create treatments. This back-end version of health profits no one but Big Pharma.