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Health Information The Link Between Body Fat and Memory

People with high amounts of belly fat are more than three times as likely to develop memory loss and dementia later in life, according to researchers at Rush — and it's linked to the liver's hankering for a protein that's also relished by the brain.

The study, which appeared in the August 2013 issue of Cell Reports, found that the liver burns belly fat with the help of the protein PPARalpha, which the brain uses for memory.

The liver works extra hard in people who have a large amount of belly fat, using up the PPARalpha. And if the liver doesn't have enough PPARalpha around it to use, it turns to other parts of the body, including the brain, to find more.

The brain's hippocampus, which plays a role in memory and learning, is essentially starved of PPARalpha. More research is needed to find a way to maintain normal PPARalpha levels in the brain to potentially prevent memory loss. In the meantime, exercise and eat healthy to keep belly fat in check and stay sharp mentally.

Spring 2014

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