Most people are aware of the problems excess weight brings to our cardiovascular health. However, recent reports are showing that weight and brain health are also interconnected. A study on weight and brain function identified low cerebral blood flow as the main predictor of Alzheimer’s disease, with other associations to depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and other negative mental conditions. Considering more than 72% of Americans are overweight, more people should take greater care lest their obesity leads to brain dysfunction.
How are weight and brain health-related
There is a complex relationship between weight and brain health. As mapped out by a study on diet and mental health, it’s often a two-way street between these two concerns. Stress on the brain is capable of negatively impacting physical health, leading to unhealthy eating. In turn, there would be more changes in mood attributed to the interference of fat with the synthesis of serotonin, a key brain neurotransmitter. These changing brain functions may lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, especially when coupled with childhood abuse and negative outlooks on self-image. To stop further deterioration and even encourage recovery, it’s essential to regulate actions contributing to weight gain and mental decline.
Tips to manage weight and brain health
For those struggling with losing weight and improving mental health, it’s important to consult a doctor or psychiatrist to learn about the best health interventions for you. With the support of a professional, you can take realistic steps toward handling your health issues and sustainably work for the better. Here are some tips on how you can manage your weight and brain health:
With the advent of nutritional and behavioral research, more experts are able to pinpoint healthy habits that tap into safe weight loss and brain care. There are now weight loss and fitness programs that track meals, drinks, snacks, physical activities, water intake, and sleep habits, promoting healthy behaviors — which similarly keep the brain healthy. These programs are often paired with mobile applications, which makes it easier to record the different processes. Through tracking, you can be more conscious of what you consume and do, allowing you to build healthier habits over time. For example, instead of reaching for a cookie, you may be more inclined to get a fruit smoothie to manage your weight and brain health. By choosing healthier options, you also bring greater nutrition to your body.
Improving mental health
Considering the link leading to mental decline, it’s also essential that you take care of your mental health. A study regarding physical activity and brain plasticity found that physical activity is associated with better cognitive function in older adults. Certain brain regions and networks were discovered to be more sensitive to the effects of exercise, which is key in keeping brain plasticity — contributing to memory formation and learning. Furthermore, several reviewed studies identified exercise to have antidepressant effects, contributing to more weight loss and improvement of mood.
In addition to exercise, people can also try out cognitive stimulating activities. Our post on cognitive stimulation reports certain activities that stimulate the mind, training the brain to create new synapses and reorganize neural circuits. Interactive tools can engage minds and mitigate the effects of depression and mental decline, helping you regain attention, memory, and perception. These techniques and tools can overall improve cognitive and mental function, which are crucial for good brain health.
By making changes in both diet and exercise routines, you can set yourself up for success. Managing your weight and brain health can be difficult, but your health investments can reap many rewards, especially when you’re older.