What’s YOUR brain age? Take this test to find out ….
Science is uncovering more and more evidence that what we eat affects our brains. Researchers at the University of Cambridge are warning that being overweight in middle age may age your brain by 10 years.There’s even evidence that obesity has real consequences in the brain — increased oxidative stress and decreased production of antioxidants, inflamed fatty tissue — which are similar to the normal biological processes associated with aging. Scientists just discovered an even stronger correlation in a newly published study.
The Study And The Findings
A team of researchers from the Cambridge Center for Aging and Neuroscience looked at the brains of 473 people between the ages of 20 and 87, and divided them into two categories: lean and overweight.
The white matter of the brain is the tissue that connects areas of the brain and allows for the exchange of information between regions. The white matter of those in the overweight category, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25, had shrunk considerably more than it had in the brains of those in the lean category.
Brain shrinkage is associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
The researchers scanned the participants’ brains and discovered changes in the brain structure of overweight people that are normally seen in people of advanced age.
The team calculated how white matter volume related to age across the two groups and found that at age 50, overweight people had as much white matter volume as a 60-year-old.
Obesity isn’t the only behavior that causes these sorts of effects on the brain. Drugs can negatively affect the brain in many ways according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Marijuana and heroin activate neurotransmitter in the brain and transmit errant, erratic signals to the rest of your system. Amphetamine and cocaine release abnormally large neurotransmitters into the brain, flooding it with communication signals and disrupting the brain’s communication channels to the rest of your body.
Excessive alcohol consumption similarly disrupts neural communication patterns, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways,” they explain on the very first line of their website, “and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.”
Eating junk food is harmful to your brain, too. A study in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience found that eating high-calorie, low-nutrition foods slows down cognitive synapses. Lead researcher Fernando Gómez-Pinilla explains: “Brain synapses and several molecules related to learning and memory are adversely affected by unhealthy diets,” he said in a statement. He greatly reduced his intake of both junk and fast food after reviewing that study.
There is already some evidence that weight loss might improve memory and overall brain health.
Scientists at Kent State University in 2011 studied 100 people with an average weight of 300 pounds. Of that number, 109 people decided to undergo some type of weight loss surgery, while the remaining 41 people did not.
Twelve weeks later, the researchers conducted memory tests and found that the surgery group – which had lost an average of 50 pounds – improved in many of the tests, including memory and executive functioning.
The participants who opted out of weight loss surgery actually showed a small decline in memory and overall brain health.
In short, eating a nutritious diet doesn’t just do your body good; it does your brain good, too. Think about that the next time you reach for those Oreos.
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Source: bigthink, naturalsociety