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The Neurotoxic Risk of Body Fat

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Dr David Perlmutter ● 2 min read

Body Fat, is a powerful brain toxin.

Research has long shown a strong relationship between increased body fat and degeneration of the brain. Basically, brain function declines as the size of the belly increases.

But have you ever wondered why this relationship exists? What is it about body fat that so profoundly damages the brain?

This was the subject of a recent report in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease entitled Secret talk between adipose tissue and central nervous system via secreted factors—an emerging frontier in the neurodegenerative research.[1]

In this paper, the scientists showed that our white adipose tissue (WAT), basically, what we gain when we get fat, is far more than just a storage depot for calories. They actually describe WAT as an endocrine organ in and of itself. It actively secretes a variety of chemicals known as adipokines that play important roles in regulation immunity and metabolism.

Moreover, these chemicals, produced in abundance when body fat is increased, readily damage and then cross the blood-brain barrier, entering the brain where they markedly increase both inflammation as well as free radicals. Importantly, these mechanisms are key players in the degenerative changes in the brain that are observed in Alzheimer’s.

As the authors stated:

…these data suggest that in pathological conditions, adipokines released by WAT promote inflammation and (free radical) production that may disrupt the blood-brain barrier permeability and could directly or indirectly act on different brain structures, the hippocampus being one of the most sensitive areas.[1]

So it would seem that an effective way to safeguard the brain would be to reduce theses damaging chemicals at their source. That means; doing everything you can to regain a normal body weight. Without question, this goal can be achieved by going low carb, eliminating sugar, eating more healthful fat, and making sure you’ve got plenty of prebiotic fiber in your diet.


  1. Parimisetty A, Dorsemans A, Awada r. et al. Secret talk between adipose tissue and central nervous system via secreted factors—an emerging frontier in the neurodegenerative research. J Neuroinflammation 2016;13:67 [Full Text]

PUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION from Dr David Perlmutter. Original article may be found here


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Dr David Perlmutter - The Empowering Neurologist
Dr. Perlmutter is a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition who received his M.D. degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine where he was awarded the Leonard G. Rowntree Research Award. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed scientific journals including Archives of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and The Journal of Applied Nutrition, and is a frequent lecturer at symposia sponsored by such medical institutions as Columbia University, Scripps Institute, New York University, and Harvard University. He serves as Associate Professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Dr. Perlmutter has been interviewed on many nationally syndicated television programs including 20/20, Larry King Live, CNN, Fox News, Fox and Friends, The Today Show, Oprah, The Dr.Oz Show and The CBS Early Show. He is the recipient of the Linus Pauling Award for his innovative approaches to neurological disorders and in addition was awarded the Denham Harmon Award for his pioneering work in the application of free radical science to clinical medicine. He is the recipient of the 2006 National Nutritional Foods Association Clinician of the Year Award and was awarded the Humanitarian of the Year award from the American College of Nutrition in, 2010. Dr. Perlmutter is the author of seven books including the #1 New York Times Bestseller, Grain Brain, The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar - Your Brain’s Silent Killers, now published in 27 countries. His new book, Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life, is now available nationwide and is a New York Times Bestseller.