Exercise may protect brain health by keeping insulin levels and BMI low

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How does exercise protect brain health? New research sheds light. Al-Suhaimi Abdullah/Noor Photo from Getty Images
  • Existing Studies show that exercise helps protect brain cells through mechanisms that researchers do not yet fully understand.
  • Researchers know this exercise He increases Brain glucose metabolism, which is associated with improved brain function.
  • Studies show that Exercise affects insulin resistance and has a complex relationship with body mass index (BMI) levels..
  • A new study suggests that exercise plays a role in maintaining insulin levels and body mass index, which may help stave off dementia by protecting the volume of gray matter in the brain.

A new study looks at the mechanisms involved in the relationship between exercise and brain health.

Previous research has shown that greater gray matter volume can help protect against dementia by improving brain function.

The new study shows that insulin resistance and BMI mediate the relationship between greater and smaller volumes of gray matter in the brain (the part of the brain responsible for processing information).

The research was published in the April 2022 online issue of NeurologyMedical Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study’s author was Dr. Geraldine Poisnel, of the Inserm Regional Research Center, in Caen, Normandy, France.

The study involved 134 people with an average age of 69 years who had no memory problems. Participants filled out a physical activity questionnaire that covered the past 12 months. They also performed brain scans to measure glucose metabolism and brain size.

Glucose metabolism in the brain Provides fuel for the brain by producing adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) – a key molecule for maintaining the health of neurons and other cells. ATP is also key to the generation of neurotransmitters. Decreased glucose metabolism in the brain may be seen in people with dementia.

Gray matter development peaks with age 2-3 years. It then begins to decrease in some areas of the brain, but the density of gray matter increases. From an evolutionary perspective, the higher processing capacity of the human brain and its development are due to this increase in density.

In some studieslarger total brain volume, estimated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), has a weak relationship with higher intelligence in men and a very weak relationship in women with the ability to perform well on intelligence tests.

In contrast, the deterioration of brain tissue and the loss of volume contribute significantly to the decline in cognitive ability later in life.

In the new study, researchers included 134 people with an average age of 69 with no memory problems. Participants filled out a physical activity questionnaire that covered the past 12 months. They also performed brain scans to measure glucose metabolism and brain size.

In the new study, researchers compiled a composition of cardiovascular risk factors including BMI And Insulin levels, as well as cholesterol, blood pressure, and other factors.

Researchers examined the relationship between insulin and cardiovascular disease. Insulin-induced metabolic disturbances increase the risk of cardiovascular complications, which in turn affect brain function.

The researchers found that insulin levels and BMI did not affect glucose metabolism in the brain.

The research showed that the amount of amyloid plaque The brain that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease is not affected by exercise.

Medical news today I called Dr. Ryan Moore, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco in La Jolla, California.

Dr. Moore, who was not involved in the study, was asked about the results of the study. I shared with her MNT:

“This study adds to the growing body of research on the positive benefits of staying active in brain health, especially as we age.”

“[T]There is an urgent need to identify signs of cognitive decline,” Dr. Moore added. “Decreased insulin levels and weight loss are modifiable factors that can be improved by a healthy diet and exercise.”

She added, “It was not surprising that higher physical activity was not associated with the amount of amyloid plaques in their brains. There is increasing evidence that vascular risk factors for cognitive function are mediated by the amount of tau pathology in the brain rather than amyloid burden.”

MNT Also spoke with Dr. Sheldon Zablo, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla, California. Dr. Zablo shared his comments about this study:

“Exercise is often called brain food, as several studies have shown the benefit of exercise in improving brain health and reducing the risk of dementia.”

“This current research study indicates that physical activity improves cognitive brain function by reducing body mass index and improving insulin metabolism. Improving weight control can reduce the rate of brain volume loss, which is a known risk factor for dementia.”

“This study will help clinicians reinforce the importance of regular exercise in reducing BMI as a low-cost way to reduce cognitive decline.”

– Dr. Zablo

Moore’s recent notes were, “The literature clearly demonstrates that cardiovascular risk factors are associated with cognitive decline and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementia.”

“Studies looking at subtle changes in the brain prior to the development of dementia are necessary to improve brain health and ward off cognitive decline.”

The strengths of this study include a sample of cognitively normal older adults and the use of multimodal imaging methods to explore the role of CVD risk factors in the association between physical activity and neuroimaging. vital signsDr. Moore said.

“[T]His methodology can move the field forward by helping to identify important signs of risk for cognitive decline.”

One limitation of the study was the use of a self-report of physical activity […] which the authors acknowledge is a limitation. Self-report of physical activity is subject to retrospective recall bias, and objective tools for measuring physical activity, such as fitness trackers, are more accurate.”

“These findings that insulin and BMI fully mediated the relationship between physical activity and whole-brain gray matter volume – specifically hippocampal gray matter volume – provide further evidence that targeting modifiable cardiovascular risk factors can improve brain health.”

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