Weight changes after age 60 pose a THREAT to your brain?!

Chances are, if you carry a few extra pounds around the middle, your doctor regularly urges you to lose weight. And the more weight lost…the better.

But that advice may miss the forest for the tree and may do more HARM than good in the long run.

In fact, according to an eye-opening new study, undergoing a dramatic weight change after 60 could pose a huge THREAT to your brain.

Let me explain…

Fluctuations in BMI tied to cognitive decline

For this new research, researchers looked at the connection between body mass index (BMI) and cognition in about 16,000 older adults, ages 60 years and older.

At the study’s outset, the participants were free of dementia. And their BMIs ranged from less than 15 (underweight) to more than 50 (obese).

(Remember, BMI is your weight divided by your height. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a “normal” BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9. Although, what we consider “normal” should really be up for debate, as I’ll explain in a moment.)

Over the next five years, the study participants took tests to measure their cognitive function— including their language, memory, mental functions, and thinking abilities. They also had their BMI measured annually.

It turns out, all the participants demonstrated some degree of mental decline over those five years.

However, one subset of participants experienced dramatic fluctuations in their BMI. (They had increases or decreases in BMI of more than 5 percent.) They also experienced a staggering 60 percent FASTER decline in cognition than those with a stable BMI over the five years.

In fact, even participants categorized as “overweight” or “obese” at the study’s outset did MUCH BETTER cognitively when their BMI stayed stable compared to their peers who lost a lot of weight!

These findings certainly raise concerns about the prevailing advice given by doctors encouraging their older, overweight patients to shed some pounds. It also raises questions about how we think about body weight and composition…

It’s time to revise our thinking about body size

I started questioning the validity of BMI as a measurement of body composition decades ago, when working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In fact, in my view, it’s a highly flawed indicator of health. And there are far more precise ways to measure body composition.

Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, the way we categorized “low,” “normal,” and “high” BMI is probably flawed, too.

For one, some previous studies show that having a so-called “higher” BMI may actually PROTECT you against dementia. It also may protects you against heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. And older people with a “higher” BMI actually live longer than their skinny peers, statistically speaking.

The author of this study even said, “a person who maintains bone, fat and muscle may have better health in old age.”

All of which begs the question…is it REALLY “high” or above “normal”…if it clearly BENEFITS your health?!

Maintain a stable BMI in your golden years

In the end, if your doctor continues to encourage you about losing weight…you may want to think again if you’re over 60. Because as this study shows, dramatic weight loss or gain, and changes in weight, may do more harm than good!

So, instead of focusing so much on the scale, I suggest following one of my long-standing, common-sense approaches to healthy aging: staying active.

Aim to get just 140 to 150 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise weekly. Science shows this weekly total is the optimal amount for improving longevity and warding off chronic diseases like dementia.

Plus, regular movement will help your BMI remain stable. (In some instances, it may also help you lose a few extra pounds—but at a safe, steady, consistent pace.)

Some of my favorite ways to stay active include casual walks in Nature, gardening, hiking, and swimming. And for additional, drug-free ways to prevent and even reverse dementia, check out my online learning tool, my Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol.