A new study has found that women who are older and overweight can improve memory if they lose weight by dieting. The findings were presented at the Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting that was held in San Francisco.
There are certain parts of the brain that are impaired due to obesity, but when weight is lost, these parts of the brain change and the memory is improved. This may add an extra incentive for women to lose weight.
Andreas Patterson MD PhD lead a study to research the effects on memory and losing weight. With help from a magnetic resonance imaging study (MRI) they were able to look at the patient’s brain activity while the patients performed a memory test. In this study there were 20 overweight women who were all post-menopausal (average age 61). They were put on one of two different healthy weight loss plans. Nine of the women were put on the Paleolithic diet, which is also called the Caveman diet. This diet is comprised of 30% protein, 30% carbs, and 40% unsaturated fats. The other 11 women followed the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations of a diet. This included 15% protein, 55% carbs, and 30% fats.
Their BMI was measured before and after the study. They also tested their episodic memory by telling them to memorize unknown pairs of faces and names that were shown on a screen during an MRI. After they studied the faces, they were shown the faces again with three letters underneath and they had to name the letter that was the first letter in the name associated with the face.
After six months of dieting the two groups lost an average of 2 BMI points and 18 pounds. Memory improved after the weight loss and brain activity changed. Episodic memory improved. The brain activity that is involved in the retrieval of memories decreased, which shows that the brain was being more efficient when recalling memories.