New Study Links Dementia to Metabolism

Alzheimer's Disease Dementia Concept

Dementia is a broad term that refers to the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions.

University of South Australia researchers have found a connection between metabolism and dementia-related brain measures.

Every three seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with dementia. Even though dementia has no known cure, changes in the brain might take place years before dementia is identified.

Now, groundbreaking research from the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia has discovered a connection between metabolism and dementia-related brain measures, offering important new information about the disease.

Researchers examined data from 26,239 individuals in the UK Biobank and discovered that those with obesity-related liver stress, inflammation, or kidney stress had the greatest adverse effects in their brains.

In order to identify early risk factors for dementia, the research examined relationships between six different metabolic profiles and 39 cardiometabolic markers with measurements of brain volume, brain lesions, and iron accumulation from MRI brain scans.

Brain Scan X-Ray MRI

Every three seconds, somebody is diagnosed with dementia.

Negative MRI profiles with smaller hippocampal and grey matter volumes, higher burdens of brain lesions, and higher iron accumulation were more prevalent in those with metabolic profiles connected to obesity.

Dr. Amanda Lumsden, a researcher at UniSA, claims that the study deepens our knowledge of brain health.

“Dementia is a debilitating disease that affects more than 55 million people worldwide,” Dr. Lumsden says.

“Understanding metabolic factors and profiles associated with dementia-related brain changes can help identify early risk factors for dementia. In this research, we found that adverse neuroimaging patterns were more prevalent among people who had metabolic types related to obesity. These people also had the highest Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) –how much energy your body requires when resting in order to support its basic functions – but curiously, BMR seemed to contribute to adverse brain markers over and above the effects of obesity.”

Senior Investigator, UniSA’s Professor Elina Hyppönen says the finding presents a new avenue for understanding brain health.

“This study indicates that metabolic profiles are associated with aspects of brain health. We also found associations with many individual biomarkers which may provide clues into the processes leading to dementia,” Prof Hyppönen says.

“The human body is complex, and more work is now needed to find out exactly why and how these associations arise.”

Reference: “Metabolic profile-based subgroups can identify differences in brain volumes and brain iron deposition” by Amanda L. Lumsden, Anwar Mulugeta, Ville-Petteri Mäkinen and Elina Hyppönen, 30 August 2022, Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism.
DOI: 10.1111/dom.14853

The study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council. 

17 Comments on "New Study Links Dementia to Metabolism"

  1. My father was a runner his whole life. He participated in 42 marathons. He is thin, doesn’t have high blood pressure and doesn’t have diabetes. He has no cardiovascular problems. In addition, he was an avid learner and has always studied new things and expanded his knowledge. Now he has dementia. So obviously dementia is a lot more than a metabolic or vascular issue. Maybe metabolic and vascular issues only worsen an already existing problem with the neurons. Maybe dementia is basically a genetic or an epigenetic problem.

  2. Sugar and processed and high starch foods. Stay off of them.

  3. Yah, I find this hard to believe too. All kinds of people get dementia. My father has been in pretty good shape his whole life and he was a bright man but he still developed dementia.

    • CW, please check the clinical trials on the ketogenic diet reversing dementia. Being in shape has nothing to do with it. Athletes especially high cardio Athletes are taught to carb load for runs and marathons. The clinical trials on keto and dementia reveal revelations that dementia is actually insulin resistance
      and starving (and thus dying) brain cells and tissue.

  4. The study completely agrees with you, more research needs to be done to a complex system known as the human body. In no way did this study say metabolic and vascular issues were the cause of dementia. It merely states there may be a link. A link in a complex chain.
    Great work in figuring out a link. Keep up the good work.

  5. “A” Connection, folks. Just because your dad was thin and got dementia anyway does not render the study invalid. Metabolism is One of Many things to pay attention to while navigating your personal habits to avoid dementia.

  6. Freddy Jefferson | November 6, 2022 at 4:26 am | Reply

    My mother died of dementia and she was not obese! I find this research to wrong.

  7. CW, please check the clinical trials on the ketogenic diet reversing dementia. Being in shape has nothing to do with it. Athletes especially high cardio Athletes are taught to carb load for runs and marathons. The clinical trials on keto and dementia reveal revelations that dementia is actually insulin resistance
    and starving (and thus dying) brain cells and tissue.

  8. Managed a dementia nursing unit for a decade and worked extensively with various forms of cognitive impairment. Conclusion, the prime factor is a genetic determinant which can be accelerated by a multitude of
    other external and internal components. Diet, exercise, and sleep deficits as well as increased stress and negative environmental causes can all play a part. Of note, there are
    many forms cognitive impairment and an individual can experience them together.

  9. Stephen Matusiewicz | November 6, 2022 at 3:04 pm | Reply

    The more I read and listen to, more and more Dr’s, scientists and journalists are pointing their fingers the same way. They are starting to call it “type 3 diabetes” and they are seeing big improvements putting dementia and Alzheimer patients on keto or carnivore diets showing better results than any medications. Certainly worth a try! I now believe processed carbs and sugar are responsible for alot of our ailments.

  10. I have been reading that we need to uptake healthy fats and omega 3 for the fight against Dementia. NO CONVENIENCE FOODS.keep your cholesterol levels a healthy level not ridiculously low!

  11. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, if your eating right or a life time learner, if it’s in your genes to get this,, you will get it.

  12. I think it’s interesting that iron accumulation plays a part. My son has high iron, but no dementia at 46. Since this condition is genetic, I had myself tested, and my doctor advised me to see a hemotologist, which I have neglected to do. Maybe seeing a physician at 73 will push back any dementia I might experience.

  13. I just read an article that said picking your nose can lead to dementia. I don’t think they know what causes.

  14. I’m 45, and I am already having difficulty with words and names. I put the mop in the closet and the broom in the bucket. I’m scared itless this is the beginning of the end.

  15. For sure,lm feeling much better now our home grown vegs are ready to eat.Body craves healthy food,want to walk more now too.lm obese,lm working on it,to live my best life🙋

  16. Please immediately stop eating fast and processed foods. Marathon running is stressful and very hard on health. Marathon runners also have major problems with joint health, too. Even a jaguar would not abuse its body like a marathon runner.

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