Dementia & Belly Fat Linked

  • How the bigger belly can lead to a major problem
  • Discover the new link made between body fat and dementia
  • A few real world ways to trim the waistline

If there’s one place I struggle with when it comes to weight, it’s my belly.

Notice I use the word ‘IF’. The truth is I have the capacity to put on weight anywhere, especially since I turned forty.

In fact I swear even my ears are a bit plumper than they were a few years ago!

But the real problem area the one I have to actively work at is my stomach.

No one likes the look of a fat stomach (even if Lara says it’s cute when I let myself go a little. But then she thinks pigs are cute too. Hmmm…), but more importantly, we all know losing the belly and keeping trim lowers the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.

But there’s another risk that may come as a surprise to you…that’sthe link between dementia and belly fat.

The connection between your belly and your brain

A team of US researchers from Kaiser Permantle (a huge healthcare company) have recently discovered that having a big waistline could almost triple your chances of suffering from Alzheimer’s in your old age.

Thirty years ago, they took 6,583 people aged between 4045, measured their abdominal fat levels, then monitored these people all the way into their 70s, splitting them into two groups along the way…

Those who developed serious illness, and those who stayed relatively healthy.

The results were pretty conclusive…

20% of people who were biggest round the waist were 270% more likely to suffer from dementia than people who were smallest round the waist.

That’s right almost TRIPLE.

All right, so let’s say the people who had the largest waistlines probably suffered from an overall obesity problem and that’s something that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s for quite some time.

But the research also threw up something that really surprised me…

You don’t have to be obviously overweight to be at risk. In fact you don’t have to be overweight at all.

In the same study, people who were considered normal weight using standard BMI calculations, but who had a waistline that was bigger than average, suffered a 90% increased risk of dementia.

Which means you could enjoy a perfect weight for your height, but if your waistline is bigger than it should be, then the threat of Alzheimer’s goes through the roof.

Especially if you’re in your forties.

Head of the study – Dr Rachel Whitmer – put it like this:

It is well known that being overweight in midlife and beyond increases risk factors for disease. However, where one carries the weight, especially in midlife, appears to be an important predictor for dementia risk.

Which means simply hopping onto the scales and falling within a safe weight range for your height is no longer good enough.

As Professor Clive Ballard, of the Alzheimer’s Society, said:

This study highlights that having a large abdomen, regardless of weight, also significantly increases your risk.’

So what can we do?

Well, I think it’s a problem that’s best tackled in two ways…

The first step to protecting your brain from your belly…

First off, it’s clear that having a large stomach could lead to serious health problems. At the very least it will increase your risk of these problems, so try this strategy to lose the belly.

I won’t kid you, it’s not going to be easy. Your abdomen is one of the hardest places to shift weight from. In fact, it’s SO hard, that many people resort to dangerous drugs or surgery to solve the problem.

In my view, this isn’t the answer. I don’t think our bodies were built to have a vacuum cleaner shoved in them, and you know my views on man-made drugs.

So, no matter how tough a process it is, try the following:

– Up your cardiovascular exercise. Most people think that doing 1000 sit ups will shrink the belly fat, but it doesn’t work like that. Doing 1000 sit ups will strengthen the muscles and build them up, but it will do very little for getting rid of the fat that’s lolling around in front of them!

In fact, a half hour brisk walk or a bike ride will do a much better job of shifting waist weight than a whole day of sit ups. But make sure it’s a minimum of half an hour. Any less than that, and you’ll get a great heart and lung workout, but you won’t burn off any fat.

– Get some help. I don’t mean splash out £1,000 on some flashy gym that has great hairdryers and a nice reception. But shifting weight, especially round the tummy, can be a chore, so it’s nice to have some support and encouragement along the way.

– Sort your diet out. Like I always say, you don’t have to throw all your treats in the bin. You just have to eat sensibly. Eat a variety of foods, making sure you get plenty of fresh, British seasonal fruit and veg into your diet. Cut down on dairy products, cut down on sugars, cut out processed foods (again, if you love white bread bacon butties, don’t deny yourself, but make it a treat rather than a daily snack), and your weight will start to look after itself.

Right, that’s the weight loss side taken care of.

Now let’s look at some other smart, natural ways to keep the threat of Alzheimer’s at bay:

– Get fats on board!

Whaaaaat? But I just said you should LOSE fat. What’s going on…?

Well I’m talking about fish fats, or good fats, which are essential to a healthy body and have been shown to be a great defence against Alzheimer’s.

People who eat an average of 180 mg or more a day of DHA (the fatty acid found in fish oils) have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia compared with people who consume less DHA. So stock up on plenty of tuna and salmon.

– Drink tea. Anti-oxidant rich tea actually. Scientists have discovered that anti-oxidants decrease the body’s production of a certain protein that’s though to be one of the building blocks of Alzheimer’s.

Phosphatidyl Serine, a bit of a tongue twister of a name, but this natural supplement can be really effective in protecting brain and cognitive function.

Okay, that’s it for this today. I’m off for a good ling walk now, avoiding all the roads that lead to sweet shops!