Quality Living Styles

Health & Dementia

Pot Belly & Alzheimer's Disease

Information related to Alzheimer's disease usually catch my attention. But today's news in the media prompted me to use the information for this website. By being better informed readers can take steps to have a quality life even in old age, by taking care of their bodies.

My family has personal experience of Alzheimer's disease, a form of dementia, & and I am aware of how devastating this disease is. It is very sad when the disease reduces intelligent, gentle, caring people with high standards of morals, appreciation of the arts, housekeeping & hygiene into difficult, bad tempered, glum, dirty individuals who have no concept of cleanliness anymore and do not know the difference between feces and food.

The latest research results are interesting as it does offer individuals the choice to take better care of themselves in order to avoid dementia by eating correctly and exercising. Although the Kaiser Permanente study does not prove that visceral fat causes dementia, it does show that there is a relationship between the two. Dr. Victor Henderson, a Stanford Behavior Neurologist, said that the concern is not only in being overweight, but where the weight accumulates. Not all fat is equal.

What is Alzheimer's Disease

It is a progressive and fatal brain disease. Alzheimer's destroys brain cells, causing confusion, problems with memory, thinking and behavior that affect work, lifelong interests, love for family and social life. Currently 26 million people worldwide have Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's gets worse over time. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death. About 350,000 new cases of Alzheimer's disease are diagnosed each year. For more information on this form of dementia check out, Alzheimer's Disease

Erin Allday, staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, daily newspapers has a very informative article on a study published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study is the first to connect belly fat to dementia. It seems that what is bad for the heart is also bad for the brain.

The following information is adapted from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, 27 March 2008, by Erin Allday.

Belly Fat and Dementia

  • What is Belly Fat? Belly fat, also known as visceral fat is found deep in the abdominal cavity, where it surrounds internal organs. Unlike subcutaneous fat found in various spots around the body, visceral fat is not visible. However an excess of visceral fat usually leads to thickness around the waist or pot belly.
  • Will I get Visceral Fat? People who are very overweight are most likely to have visceral fat, but anyone with an apple shaped body is at risk. According to Rachel Whitmer, a scientist at Oakland Kaiser's Research Division, one needs to also think about where one carries their weight. One should know whether one is apple or a pear-shaped. When most of the weight is carried below the waist, in the hips, buttocks and thighs, people are generally pear-shaped.
  • Apple or Pear Shape? You can find out if you are pear or apple-shaped by measuring your waist and hips. Divide the circumference of the waist by that of the hips. In general, women have wider hips. If the number is greater than 0.8 you are apple shaped. Men are apple shaped if the number is greater than 1. For more details on how to find our if you are apple or pear-shaped check, more belly fat, apples or pears
  • Why is Visceral Fat a Problem? Excess visceral fat has been linked to conditions like heart disease, and diabetes. The new study now finds a relationship with dementia. Just as the arteries get blocked by plaque build ups, so plaques build up in the brain, damaging nerve cell networks involved in thinking, learning, remembering, seeing, hearing, smell & muscle movements. Another theory is that visceral fat also releases toxins & as it is wrapped around internal organs, there is increased risk of harm to the organs and brain.
  • Can one lose visceral fat? There is a very good chance to lose belly fat by eating healthy and exercising. Visceral fat has also been known to burn away quite soon into a regular exercise program. Sleep deprivation also leads to over eating. Hormones that regulate appetite are Ghrelin and Leptin. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and signals the brain when it is time to eat. Leptin which is produced by adipose tissue or fat has the opposite effect, signaling the brain that you are full. Chronic lack of sleep increases Ghrelin and decreases Leptin so that you feel hungry even when you do not need to eat. This is what leads us to eat more even after we have eaten the required calories. To get an update on this check out, Sleep
    and Get quality sleep

The Research Study

The study was conducted on Northern California Kaiser Permanente patients The research involved 6,583 patients who had their abdominal fat measured in the 1960's and 1970's when they were in their 40's. Between 1994 - 2006, 15.9% were diagnosed with dementia.

Those patients with the most visceral fat in middle age, the rate of dementia was 324.3 cases per 10,000

The rate of dementia for those with the least belly fat was 214.6 per 10,000.

After considering factors that can influence dementia such as, age, education, sex and medical conditions such as stroke or heart disease, it was found that people with the most belly fat were 2.72 times more likely to develop dementia than those with the least fat.

It seems that thin people also have to watch that they do not have a large pot belly as this puts them at risk as well. This study showed that people of average weight but with most visceral fat were 89 percent more likely to develop dementia than people of average weight with little or no belly fat.

Be Prepared

Although dementia appears in old age, “the process to get there, the neuro-degeneration takes 15-20 years to develop.” But the good news is that you can work towards modifying that through a better, healthy, lifestyle.

This information may help you to take better care of yourself and those around you. Conditions like Alzheimer's does not only affect the patient but everyone involved in that persons life. So make your choice responsibly.

picture of a cartoon image of a pear dressed as a man

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