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Low Metabolism Could Lead to Poor Brain Health

According to the World Health Organization, over 55 millionTrusted Source people live with dementia globally, with 10 million new cases diagnosed each year.

Studies showTrusted Source that the brain undergoes functional and structural changes years before the onset of cognitive impairment.

Other research indicatesTrusted Source that metabolic factors such as diabetes, dyslipidemia (having blood lipid levels that are too high or low), and high blood pressure are linked to cognitive decline and dementia.

One studyTrusted Source found that patients aged 60 years and over with metabolic risk factors are 11.48 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without.

Investigating the link between metabolic risk factors and dementia could aid preventative approaches based on metabolic risk profiles.

Recently, researchers investigated the link between metabolic biomarkers and brain health, captured via brain imaging data.

They found that metabolic profiles are linked to neuroimaging characteristics that indicate cognitive decline and increased dementia risk.

The study was published in Diabetes, Obesity, and MetabolismTrusted Source.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 26,239 individuals from the U.K. Biobank who were free from dementia and stroke at recruitment. The participants were aged between 37 and 73 years old at recruitment and 52% were female.

The researchers examined the participants’ brain MRI data, including:

  • total brain volume (TBV)

  • grey matter volume (GMV)

  • white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume

  • hippocampal volume (HV)

  • iron deposition

Of these brain MRI measures, lower TBVTrusted Source, lower GBV, and larger WMV volumeTrusted Source have been linked to brain damage and loss of function.

Meanwhile, greater iron deposition has been linked to a greater risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia. Reduced HV is also linked to poorer memory, verbal learning, processing speed, and executive function.

The researchers assessed brain imaging along a number of biomarkers, including:

  • cholesterol levels

  • levels of inflammation

  • kidney function

  • liver function

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)

  • Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR)—the number of calories burned while at rest

  • blood pressure

  • 25(OH)D levels, which is a measure of vitamin D

They found that younger age, higher education level, never having been a smoker, a greater number of working hours, and a higher level of physical exercise were linked to a greater HV and fewer brain lesions.

They also noted that iron deposition levels tended to increase with age, and were higher among those smokers and ex-smokers, those with a higher level of education, more working hours, and higher levels of strenuous exercise.

The researchers further found that high triglycerides, high BMI, poor liver and kidney function, and high levels of inflammation were linked to the most adverse brain outcomes.

High triglycerides and liver dysfunction, in particular, were linked to the highest levels of iron deposition, brain lesions, and GMV loss.

The researchers noted that higher BMR was linked to more iron deposition, lower GMV, and lower HV than obesity.

They also noted that lower vitamin D levels were linked to more brain lesions and lower TBV and GMV.

Article originally appeared on MedicalNewsToday.