Obesity May Affect Protective Blood Brain Barrier, Lead To Memory Loss: 5 Tips To Manage Obesity

The protective barrier comprises high-density cells that help restricting the passage of substances in the body from the bloodstream.

NDTV Food Desk (with inputs from ANI)  |  Updated: April 23, 2019 17:06 IST

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Obesity May Affect Protective Blood Brain Barrier, Lead To Memory Loss: 5 Tips To Manage Obesity

Obesity is one of the most common causes of health concerns around the world. Obesity is marked by abnormal body mass index (BMI). Obesity is tied with several health conditions such as diabetes and kidney failure. If the findings of a recent study are to be believed, obesity can break down the protective blood-brain barrier that may result in memory loss and hamper cognitive abilities. The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. This protective barrier comprises high-density cells that help restricting the passage of substances in the body from the bloodstream.

Chronic activation of brain receptor Adora2a that line this important barrier in our brain can let factors from the blood enter the brain and affect the function of our neurons. Researchers have found that when they block Adora2a in a model of diet-induced obesity, an important barrier function is maintained.

We know that obesity and insulin resistance break down the blood brain barrier in humans and animal models, but exactly how has remained a mystery," says Dr. Alexis M. Stranahan, neuroscientist.

Adenosine, is a neurotransmitter present in our brain which is effective in regulating our sleep and blood pressure. Adenosine (the chemical found in living being) also activates receptors Adora1a and Adora2a (brain receptors). It plays a crucial role in supporting healthy relationships between brain activity and blood flow.

Problems arise with chronic activation, particularly in the brain, which is what happens with obesity, says Stranahan.

Many studies have shown that reducing chronic inflammation in the brain may help prevent obesity-related memory loss.

The researchers fed a high-fat diet to a group of mice who got fat within two weeks. They showed signs of developing diabetes in future. The researchers also observed that obesity first increased permeability of the blood brain barrier to tiny molecules.

With the help of electron microscopy, the scientists saw that resulting diabetes promoted shrinkage of the usually tight junctions between endothelial cells and actual holes in those cells. The scientists gave a drug to temporarily block Adora2a, they noticed that it also blocked problems with barrier permeability.

Next, the researchers tried experiments over a group of mouse in which they could selectively knock Adora2a out of endothelial cells. They turned off Adora2a in the endothelial cells at 12 weeks, and at 16 weeks, when these transgenic mice should have been exhibiting cognitive impairment and a leaky blood brain barrier. Interestingly, they had normal cognition and barrier function and no significant signs of inflammation.

When they compared the transgenic mice that were on a high- or low-fat diet, they found evidence that the increased permeability of blood vessels in the brain initiates the cycle of inflammation and cognitive impairment. While it's typically hard to jump from mice to men, the fact that this type of work actually started with human findings likely means that avoiding insulin resistance could potentially halt the increased permeability of the blood brain barrier and decrease in cognitive function, Stranahan says.

"If an individual has already progressed to insulin resistance, these studies underscore the importance of controlling blood sugar levels and avoiding progressing to insulin deficiency (diabetes), which opens the blood brain barrier even further."

Obesity Diet Tips

Obese people need to be extra careful of their diet. Starving is not a sustainable way for weight loss. Weight loss requires a dedicated weight loss regimen and diet. Here are some expert tips that may help you manage your weight better.

1. Ditch refined grains and opt for wholegrain. Wholegrain are richer in fibre. Fibre makes you feel full and you binge less if you are satiated. Eat whole grains like bajra, ragi, maize and jowar. Try brown or red rice in place of carb-dense white rice.


2. Whole dals are also a good bet for weight management. Lentils and legumes like rajma, and chana dals are filled with protein that helps induce satiety. You can have them in soups, stews or even sprout them.

3. Avoid red meat and load up on lean meat like chicken or fish instead. They supply enough protein without the fat quotient you find in red meat.

4. Eat a lot of seasonal fruits and veggies as they are full of essential antioxidants and fibres that help boost metabolism.

5. Stay away from junk, processed and sugary foods. Aerated drinks and sodas are also filled with liquid calories.

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