Influence of Body Fat on Brain Function

by Shaun DMello on  June 4, 2015 at 4:25 PM Health In Focus
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Energy levels in the brain are controlled by an enzyme released by fat tissues in the body, reports a study conducted on mice at the Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis.
Influence of Body Fat on Brain Function
Influence of Body Fat on Brain Function

This highlights the importance of fat tissue in regulating the brain's response to starvation or food scarcity and also supports what some experts have long suggested - some amount of body fat is essential for good health and can even improve life expectancy.

Earlier studies found that slightly overweight individuals had fewer health problems and a lower mortality rate as opposed to those having ideal body weight. The findings of this study are important because they put these earlier findings into perspective.

Individuals with zero body fat may pride themselves on their lean, sinewy bodies, but the truth is having inadequate body fat is just not healthy. The researchers found that the absence of an enzyme NAMPT (Nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase) produced by fat tissue in mice didn't just impact energy levels in the fat tissue, but also affected the functioning of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a small but vital part of the brain that plays an important role in body metabolism and physiology, regulating body temperature, hunger, thirst, sleep, heart rate and blood pressure. The researchers found that mice with low NAMPT levels in fat tissue registered low fuel levels in the hypothalamus and had low levels of physical activity. This indicates that fat tissue has a direct influence of the way the brain regulates certain aspects of the body's physiology.

The researchers also observed results with a reversal of the situation where mice had fat tissue with more NAMPT than is normal. They noticed these mice displayed high levels of physical activity including after fasting, whereas the low NAMPT level mice became more lethargic after fasting. They also found that the low energy levels and low physical activity could be temporarily boosted in low NAMPT mice by injecting them with NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide), a compound normally produced by NAMPT. This compound may also come to play a role in protecting against degenerative diseases and conditions associated with the aging process.

This is just one of many studies in recent times that has highlighted the importance of some amount of body fat. The medical establishment has clearly dispelled the notion of skinny being healthy but popular culture is yet to catch on. With celebrities and fashion models championing weight loss and skinny bodies, most teenagers and young adults are still obsessed with weight loss and strive towards an unrealistic and unhealthy body weight. Keep in mind there's a big difference between some amount of body fat and being obese or morbidly obese, so don't use these findings as an excuse to binge!


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