The older we get the harder it becomes to shed those few extra pounds that have accumulated over the years. We know being overweight is detrimental to our health – it has been linked to diabetes and heart disease – but new research suggests being overweight is bad for our memory as well.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia which affects memory, thinking and behavior. The older you are the higher your risk becomes of developing it, and yet Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that one in three seniors has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia and, with an aging population, this number is expected to rise.
Many theories and suggestions have come to light as methods to lower one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease, like eating the right foods and exercising; the new findings suggest monitoring your weight can also be a way to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
High BMI at 50 linked with Alzheimer’s disease risk
The findings were published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. In the study, 1,400 individuals were tracked by researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The researchers saw that 142 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Over the course of the 14-year study researchers examined changes to the participant’s cognitive abilities. What they uncovered was that those who had higher body mass indexes (BMI) at the age of 50 developed Alzheimer’s disease 6.7 months sooner.
Body mass index uses height and weight to roughly measure a person’s body fat. Typically a BMI over 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI over 30 is considered obese. According to the research, a 50-year-old with a BMI over 30 could experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease up to a year earlier compared to a 50-year-old with a BMI of 28.
In those participants who did not develop Alzheimer’s disease but still had high BMIs, researchers found an accumulation of amyloid plaques – toxic proteins that harm the brain. Researchers believe the inflammation associated with high BMI could play a role in this.
Although further study is needed, researchers suggest it is still optimal to try and maintain a healthy weight and eat well; they recommend the Mediterranean diet as it has been shown to boost brain health and maintain healthy body weight.
Tips to prevent Alzheimer’s disease
If you’re over the age of 50 and are overweight or obese, you can still switch up your lifestyle habits in order to reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The below tips can greatly improve your odds of preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Drop those extra pounds.
- Consume more berries.
- Eat more fish.
- Drink a single glass of red wine each day.
- Opt for the Mediterranean diet.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Keep a strong social support.
- Exercise regularly.
- Learn a new skill and keep your mind active.