Fat on the belly can cause changes in the immune system

A link between the amount of fat in the abdomen and flexibility of thought was found by a group of researchers at Iowa State University. According to the researchers, a lower amount of muscle and higher amount of fat in this area of the body can cause a change in the immune system, which in turn is responsible for a decrease in flexibility of thought and cognition in general.

These are new connections and assumptions that could lead to new treatments to maintain high levels of mental flexibility in obese older people and in general in all those people who are subject to muscle loss and sedentary lifestyles as they age.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 4,000 subjects in a British biobank, both men and women, middle-aged or elderly. The researchers found that levels of abdominal and subcutaneous fat appeared to correlate with changes in the fluidity of cognitive and intelligence levels.

Specifically Auriel Willette, Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition, and Brandon Klinedinst, a student in neuroscience, found that people in their 40s and 50s with more fat in the middle section showed lower fluidity of intelligence as they aged than people with less fat in that specific area. Those who had more muscle mass in this area, in fact, seemed to be able to take advantage of a sort of protective factor.

The researchers naturally took into account various other factors including age, socioeconomic status, educational level, lifestyles, etc. It was women who showed the greatest risk of less lean muscle mass and this shows how exercise, particularly endurance training, is an essential factor for middle-aged women who, compared to men, tend to have less and less muscle mass as they get older. The researchers found no link between a higher amount of body fat in the middle section and a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.


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