AddictionFood for thoughtMental Health

Study: Body Weight Has Surprising Impact on Brain Function

By August 7, 2020 No Comments

Image of a brain

Researchers have been working for generations on questions involving the causes of mental illness. We have made an enormous amount of progress, but we still have a long way to go before we finally, truly understand what causes problems with the brain and how to repair or resolve them. However, each new study represents important progress as we learn more about our bodies and how to maintain them. That appears to have happened again with the results of research that seemingly defined a surprisingly direct link between body weight and brain function, such that this connection could even open the door for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in some and serious mental health problems in others.

The study, which can be found here and that was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, is believed to be one of the largest of its kind, as the researchers reviewed more than 35,000 neuroimaging scans from more than 17,000 people. The scans of the subjects’ brains were taken both when they were at rest and when they were given a concentration task to highlight any possible differences between those two states.

The data revealed that as the subjects moved from underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese and ultimately to morbidly obese, the blood flow to different parts of the brain progressively trended downward. The areas of the brain that were found to have been particularly vulnerable to this reduced blood flow included:

  • Temporal lobes
  • Parietal lobes
  • Hippocampus
  • Posterior cingulate gyrus
  • Precuneus

Several of these areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus and the temporal lobes, are susceptible to the harm inflicted by Alzheimer’s disease.

Why This Matters

This study matters for several reasons. First, it should highlight that Americans need to individually and collectively do something about their lifestyles, as most statistics show that more than 70 percent of people across the country are at least overweight, and that nearly half of all overweight Americans are classified as obese. Not to mention, low cerebral blood flow is generally thought to be the top indicator that a person will ultimately develop Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, low cerebral blood flow has also been associated with the following mental health conditions:

  • Depression
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Addiction
  • Suicide

Basically, the entire study shows that this situation is a continuum. People who are having trouble controlling their weight are experiencing lower levels of blood flow to their brains. This lowered blood flow leads to less activity in the brain, which was shown in the imaging. Over long periods of time, this problem opens the door to serious and permanent harm to the brain that includes Alzheimer’s disease and any of the mental health problems listed above among others.

Does this mean that if you live your entire life at a proper and healthy weight, you’re never going to have problems with your brain? Of course not, but it seems almost certain that not managing your weight and overall health only creates a stronger possibility that something will go wrong. Deductively, we owe it to ourselves to do what we can to eat a healthy diet, get a reasonable amount of exercise, sleep enough to restore our bodies and take all the basic steps that lead to good health and the prevention of innumerable diseases.

Swift Recovery Solutions and Mental Health

Swift Recovery Solutions is not a medical center that treats patients with Alzheimer’s disease. We are not a team of neurologists who perform brain surgery. We are also not a weight loss clinic. What we are, though, is a team of mental health and addiction professionals who have helped countless people overcome the problems and conditions you see above in addition to many others. The results of this study are not really a surprise to us, as our work with the folks we have helped over the years has involved digging all the way to the foundational cause of a mental health or addiction challenges, and many times that’s involved the people’s lifestyles.

What this study should tell you is that if you are experiencing any mental health challenges, you should be ready to examine any and every aspect of your life, whether it’s your body weight, your brain function or anything else. It may not always be comfortable, and it will not always be fun or easy. That’s because it isn’t supposed to be. If you suffer from mental health problems, you have a disease. Fighting and curing diseases is tough, challenging work that requires focus, diligence and a lot of help from people who have a special ability to provide it.

That’s where Swift Recovery Solutions comes into the picture. We provide the help that people need, and we’re not about to tell anyone who’s thinking about getting that badly needed help that a stay with us is going to be all fun and games. We have to work together to fight back against and get on top of a disease, much like cancer or anything else. In addition to taking that all-important and critical step, we also work with people to make sure that they have the knowledge and skills necessary to cope with their situations after their stay with us is complete.

We’re here to help. We’re here to turn over every rock and look into every nook and cranny necessary to identify the root of your problems and resolve them, once and for all. If you’re wondering whether or not you need help, the least you should do is talk to someone to learn more about what’s happening. You should do the same if you’re worried about someone you love. You can handle either task by contacting our team to review your situation. We look forward to listening to you and to telling you what you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear.


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