World Brain Day: Know how obesity affects brain health

On World Brain Day 2023, a neurologist explains how obesity affects brain health and function. Note how to keep your brain healthy!
Brain health can be linked to obesity
On World Brain Day 2023, find out the link between obesity and brain health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 18:27 pm IST
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Obesity has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, affecting millions of people and having significant public health implications. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity rates have almost tripled since the 1970s, making it a global health concern. Obesity is characterized by excessive accumulation of body fat and is often associated with a number of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Over the years, it has been seen that the effects of obesity on the brain can lead to permanent changes in this vital organ. Let us know how obesity affects brain health.

Your lifestyle choices can have a major impact in determining brain health. In a majority of the cases, a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for unhealthy weight gain. There are many side effects of obesity on different organs.

Side effects of obesity on brain health

1. Inflammation and oxidative stress

Obesity is often associated with a state of chronic inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body. These processes can also affect the brain and have been linked to neuronal damage and impaired brain function.

2. Hormonal imbalances and brain function

The adipose tissue of obese people produces a number of hormones and signaling molecules called adipokines. Some of these hormones, such as leptin and adiponectin, play a critical role in regulating appetite, metabolism and energy balance. However, obesity can lead to hormonal imbalances, including leptin resistance, in which the brain no longer responds to satiety signals.

Also read: 6 lifestyle tips for a healthier and stronger brain

Obese woman
Obesity is not good for health! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Obesity affects cognitive function

Several studies have examined the relationship between obesity and cognitive function. Although the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, there is evidence that obesity is associated with impaired cognitive performance, including deficits in attention, memory and executive functions.

4. Increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases

Obesity has been associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The exact mechanisms underlying this association are complex and likely involve a combination of factors, including inflammation, insulin resistance, and vascular damage.

How to boost brain health?

Now that you know about the link between obesity and brain health, you understand that preventing obesity is essential to reduce its potential impact on the brain and overall health. Lifestyle modifications play a major role in determining it. Read on to know some of the most effective ways to boost brain health:

* Balanced diet: Adopt a balanced, calorie-controlled and nutritious diet. Choose to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, lean proteins as well as healthy fats. Avoid processed foods and sugary beverages. Additionally, it is recommended to eat slowly and avoid situations where you know you could be tempted to overeat. Here’s a quick guide on foods for brain health.

* Indulge in regular physical activity: It is recommended to take up cardiovascular activities for a at least 150 to 300 minutes a week. You could vary between brisk walking, jogging, swimming or tennis, depending on whatever you are most comfortable with.

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Exercise for brain health
Exercise can improve brain function. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

* Limit sedentary behaviour: Reduce prolonged sitting and sedentary activities. Take breaks during prolonged periods of sitting and incorporate movement into your daily routine.

* Stay hydrated: People often tend to forget the importance of drinking water. So sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger. This can lead to unnecessary calorie intake. Therefore, it is recommended to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

* Manage stress: Adopt stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies to manage stress and emotional eating.

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About the Author

Patiala-based Dr Satwant Singh Sachdeva has over 32 years of experience in Neurology. He is currently a Senior Consultant of Neurology at Manipal Hospital, Patiala.He graduated from Punjabi University in 1972, followed by a Diploma in Chest & Neurology, a Post Graduation in Internal Medicine and a Post Graduation in Medicine from Punjabi University and Post Graduation in Neurology.His expertise includes stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson's Disease, Migraine, Dementia, Persistent Headache, Neuro-infections and Neuromuscular Disorders. ...Read More

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