Visceral Fat Shrinks Your Brain

November 12, 2023

Visceral Fat Shrinks Your Brain

The gut-brain-immune triad is more complex and more important that any of us imagined. For starters, if you take 10,001 older Americans (average age 52) and do a whole body MRI scan with volumetric calculations of brain regions and body fat, notably visceral fat, you can show that quantity of visceral fat directly predicts loss of brain volume. Testing multiple areas of the brain the same findings were revealed with odds ratios of 5.1 and p values of < 0.001. The more visceral fat, the smaller the brain. Ouch!

Furthermore, if you take the bacteria in the gut of Alzheimer's patients and feed it to mice who are genetically programmed to get the same AD as humans, you can show that the human gut microbiome makes the mice develop an increase in their Alzheimer's behavior and pathology. This suggests that one avenue to prevent Alzheimer's would be to feed your own biome a healthy dose of probiotics and prebiotics to get your gut to blossom into a more brain-supporting biome.

What do visceral fat and an unhealthy gut biome have in common? We know pretty clearly that one serving of red meat will have a negative impact on memory and cognitive function. One serving. One meal! (Bummer!). Why would that happen? Cows being raised for beef are stuffed full of corn and beans, not their natural food, which is grass and green pasture plants. They get visceral fat and they are inflamed, just like we humans. We eat that meat and we are getting a dose of all their inflammatory cytokines, and their inflammatory fats. We also know that eating saturated fat can be shown to contribute to dysbiosis, increase intestinal barrier permeability, chronic low-grade inflammation, oxidative stress, and dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier, affecting the central nervous system.

There's your link. Saturated animal fats alter your biome and make for leaky gut. That leads to increased visceral fat that becomes a shower of inflammatory cytokines. Processed foods thrown into the mix compound the problem.

Those circulating cytokines will damage the lining of your blood vessels, the blood-brain barrier, and your plasmalogens (present in your endothelial cells and your brain). Remember, plasmalogens have a vinyl ether bond that is on the surface of the membrane on the outside of the cell. That's handy because it is the first to see peroxide, the universal marker of oxidative stress. If you use up plasmalogens, you have less synaptic density and less neurotransmission of signals. That's called lower memory function.

It sounds like the core nugget to take away is to increase your healthy gut biome because that is what leads to visceral fat. Considering that your gut biome is dramatically altered for the worse whenever you eat any sort of saturated animal fat made by corn-fed American animals (dairy, butter, yogurt, cheese, meat, steak, hamburger, sausage) we need to consider intentionally swapping out our meals of red meat for alternatives that have minimal processing, organic, with healthy omega fats. And processed foods, the engine that drives visceral fat has gotta go.

www.What will Work for me? Sounds like more avocadoes, more nuts, less hamburger, steak, and Braunschweiger. We are just learning how to measure the human gut biome. Lactulose is the best modulator for growing more Bifidobacter. Prebiotics like inulin work well too. Adding just plain fiber by eating whole foods adds a lot. Ground flax seed is particularly potent but commercial fiber products add an appreciable quantity. Better, just avoid processed foods that have all the fiber removed. That includes any grains. Replace your grains with whole vegetables. There are thousands of recipes and ideas.

Green Bean Salad: 2 pounds fresh green beans cut into 1-inch pieces. Boil for 3-4 minutes. Add 1/4 red onion diced. Add 1/2 cup goat feta. Add: 3/4 cup of vinaigrette made with 2/3s apple cider vinegar 1/3 olive oil and 1 T Dijon mustard. Add 1 packet of Stevia to the dressing.

References: Aging and Disease, Internal Review Neurobiology, Brain, Curr Dev Nutr, Jr Neuroimmunology,

Pop Quiz

1. What's the correlation between visceral fat and brain size?                  Answer: The more visceral fat, the worse your brain.

2. How does red meat contribute to cognitive function?                              Answer: One meal of American corn/bean-fed red meat will show reduced memory function.

3. What's the thread that ties all of these disparate ideas together?                    Answer: the inflammation caused by visceral fat and red meat depletes plasmalogens in the membranes of cells, notably the endothelium in your arteries and in your synapses and myelin in your brain.

4. The biome of bacteria in Alzheimer's patients does what to rat memory function?                Answer: Decidedly worse.

5. Name some steps you can do to improve your own natural gut biome.                       Answer: fiber, fiber, fiber. Lots of organic whole vegetables and fruits. Cut processed foods and sugar. Cut red meat. Replace with nuts and fish. Add inulin and lactulose as supplements. (Jerusalem Artichokes are native American root vegetables in your organic grocery store now: rich source of inulin. They look like small potatoes and are often called "Sunchokes". )

6. Extra Credit Pop Quiz. If you have 200 billion neurons, and lose 0.5% a year after age 50 (so called "normal aging"), how many neurons are you losing each second?                                                              Answer: 317 .   Can you afford to accelerate that?