It is of course common knowledge that fat can have adverse, below-the-neck, health repercussions, but new animal studies, according to a recent post at the New York Times Wellness Blog, demonstrate that fat also affects brain health and function.
How so? After all, the brain contains no fat cells. And although fat cells excrete substances into the blood cells which could be harmful to the brain, the brain is protected from undesirable molecules by the blood-brain barrier.
The studies however, indicated that obesity weakens the blood-brain barrier, leaving the brain vulnerable to substances manufactured by fat cells that can in particular cause inflammation. A prolonged condition of inflamation can, over time, damage a cell. In the brain, this appears to impair healthy synapse function, or basically the ability of brain cells to connect and communicate with each other.
Slimmed down, the mice in the study appeared to regain their cognitive function. Interestingly, mice which were put on an exercise regime, running on a treadmill 45 minutes a day, regained cognitive function even when remaining heavy.
So will exercise and weight-loss make you smarter? It’s important to keep in mind that the studies were conducted on mice and not humans, but the evidence seems to suggest that the answer is “YES!”