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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Santa beware: Belly fat not so jolly

(Illustration by Thomas Nast)
Since we're coming upon the season in which fat-bellied Santas are ubiquitous, these words to the wise will hopefully inspire some holiday restraint.

With the eye-catching headline Your Liver May Be 'Eating' Your Brain, Christopher Wanjek of Live Science began his rendition of the belly-fat blues.  He claimed that "people with extra abdominal fat are three times more likely than lean individuals to develop memory loss and dementia," and then proceeded to explain why.

It seems that the hippocampus (memory center of the brain) and the liver are in competition for the PPARalpha protein.  Whereas the liver uses it to "burn belly fat," the hippocampus uses it to "process memory." 

Can you see where this is headed?  When there are large stores of fat within Santa-like bellies, conscientious livers could be forced
to raid other PPARalpha stashes, such as those within healthy brains.  When the brain is robbed of its necessary PPARalpha supply, the hippocampus then goes without its
necessary mnemonic tools.

The good news is that when the brains of PPARalpha-deficient mice were injected with additional PPARalpha, their memories and learning curves improved.  Perhaps such therapies can be developed for humans, as well.

In the meantime, just desert those holiday desserts.   


Copyright October 19, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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