In episode 131 of his video series, Dr. Larson discusses:
A lot of research has been focused on deciphering the connection between the brain and the body. A recent study released in the journal, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, speaks to the importance of the connection between fat in the body and brain function. The researchers sought to evaluate a particular type of cognitive function called “fluid intelligence”.
Fluid intelligence is a person’s general reasoning skills, their general sense of pattern recognition, and their ability to solve novel problems without task-specific experience. Fluid intelligence tends to decline with aging, but the degree and extent of that decline varies from one person to the next.
The researchers in this study looked at people in their 40s and 50s and evaluated them using intelligence tests, and then they compared the scores of those tests against a body evaluation. The researchers used the highly sophisticated DEXA Scan to measure body composition like fat and muscle and then cross-reference that information with their degree of fluid intelligence.
What researchers found was that the greater the degree of lean muscle, the greater the maintenance of fluid intelligence over time in both men and women. The more lean muscle mass a person had; the greater the degree of fluid intelligence they were able to retain. And conversely, the greater the amount of adipose tissue mass, the greater the degree of decline in fluid retention. Visceral body fat differs from subcutaneous fat because it is the deeper, more metabolically active fat that surrounds the organs.
The researchers talked about what the connection is. They discussed how adipose fat is different from other types of body fat because when it accumulates around the organs, it can lead to metabolic issues. Metabolic dysfunction from excess visceral fat results in inflammation in the body that affects the regulation of the immune system, including the white blood cells.
There is a greater degree of immune system imbalance and inflammation in the body when there is an accumulation of visceral fat, and that inflammation has a direct effect on the immune system and brain and body connection. The dysregulation of the immune and inflammatory system influences the function and anatomy of the brain. This study speaks to the importance of maintaining lean muscle mass and burning the deep belly fat, especially now that we know how it affects the functioning of the brain.
We talk frequently about how belly fat affects the cardiovascular system and other organs and systems in the body, but this study now demonstrates how it affects the function of the brain, which makes reducing deep visceral fat even that more critical to our overall health and well-being.