High levels of lean muscle may help prevent Alzheimer.

High levels of lean muscle may help prevent Alzheimer.

High quantities of lean muscle may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, according to recent studies. To determine whether this connection is causal, more study is required.

Resistance training and a sufficient intake of protein in the diet are advised by experts as ways to build lean muscle mass. Previous studies have shown a link between obesity and an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s.

A recent study that was published in BMJ Medicine suggests that having a lot of lean muscle may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The authors of the study pointed out that additional study is required to comprehend the biological mechanisms underlying it.

Researchers gathered data on 450,243 participants’ genetics, lean muscle mass, cognition, and health for this study from the U.K. Biobank. They next used a method known as Mendelian randomization to search for genetic relationships between lean muscle mass and genetic variants.

The quantity of lean muscle and fat tissue in the arms and legs was measured using bioimpedance, an electric current that moves through the body at varying speeds. The researchers next discovered 584 genetic variations related to lean muscle mass, but none of these were located in an area of the genome known to include genes connected to an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

The chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease did, however, appear to be reduced in individuals who had high amounts of lean muscle mass and associated genetic variations.

These results were confirmed by measuring the quantity of lean muscle mass and body fat tissue in a second cohort of 252,879 individuals without Alzheimer’s disease and 7,329 individuals with the condition.

The findings indicated that lean mass was associated with enhanced cognitive performance, but this association did not account for lean mass’s protective effect against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The study’s objectives

The majority of the data utilized by the researchers came from the UK Biobank, a continuous database that collects health and genetic data on 500,000 people. The researchers used data from hundreds of thousands of people.

Mendelian randomization, which employs gene variations as a proxy for specific risk variables, was used to analyze the data.

Additionally, bioimpedance measurements which determine the speed at which an electrical current travels through the body based on its composition in terms of muscle and fat were used to calculate each person’s lean mass.

A total of 584 genetic variations were connected to lean muscle mass, but none of them were discovered in the region of the brain linked to Alzheimer’s susceptibility.

Participants’ chance of developing the disease was statistically significantly (12%) lower on average for those with higher amounts of (genetically proxied) lean muscle.

The analysis was performed using data from an additional 260,208 individuals, of whom 7,329 were identified as having Alzheimer’s disease, in order to confirm these findings. They measured lean muscle mass over the entire body, not only in the arms and legs.

Again, they discovered that having more lean muscle was linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s.

Unexpectedly, the analysis did not reveal a correlation between body fat and the probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease once lean mass was taken into account. Body fat was associated with inferior performance in cognitive activities.

The significant contrast between the protective effect of lean mass on dementia risk and the lack of an effect of fat mass on dementia risk, according to Daghlas, startled him.

How Alzheimer’s disease and lean muscle are related?

The fact that the processes underlying the association between lean muscle and Alzheimer’s disease are still unknown is another drawback of the study.

The researchers made brief speculations about possible connections. For instance, Alzheimer’s has long been linked to cardiovascular illness, though Daghlas cautioned that the connection is “complicated.”

According to Daghlas, heart disease problems like stroke and hypertension are what fuel vascular dementia. Though this is a contentious idea, he added, “the most recent causal evidence suggests weaker evidence for an effect of vascular risk factors on Alzheimer’s disease risk.”

Lean mass may very possibly lower the incidence of vascular dementia through lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to Daghlas, however more research is needed in this area. “This can be looked into in upcoming studies.”

In the publication, the researchers also made the speculative claim that “new” processes, such as centrally acting myokines, may be at work.

Myokines are proteins that muscles produce that have an impact on other tissues, according to Daghlas. “Experimental studies have demonstrated that they are induced by exercise and have a positive impact on brain function.”

Other muscle-related issues, in addition to these, “may explain the larger picture,” according to Dr. Anna Nordvig, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine who was not involved in the study. Examples include “bone hormones, cardio vs. strength training differences, sex hormones, glymphatic drainage depending on exercise, and sleep, to name a few.”

In the end, further clinical intervention studies are required to demonstrate the link between lean muscle and Alzheimer’s disease and the mechanisms underlying it.

The best way to build lean muscle mass

Having lean muscle mass has several health benefits in addition to possible advantages for the brain.

Resistance training using weights, bands, and pleiomorphic activities are advised by Dr. Joseph C. Maroon, clinical professor, vice chairman, and Heindl scholar in neuroscience at the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh.

Additionally, he recommends supplementing with B-hydroxy B-methylbutyrate (myHMB), a good source of dietary protein.

This naturally occurring compound aids in the maintenance of a healthy weight and the development of lean muscle mass in humans. B-hydroxy helps muscles recover from hard activity, improves athletic performance, and enhances muscle and strength, according to him.

According to Dr. Sullivan, the best food, the best kind and frequency of exercise, the optimum amount of rest, and stress management are the primary factors that influence muscle growth.

These are the recommendations she makes:

Exercise: four to five quick strength-training sessions each week. In comparison to two or three longer aerobic exercises each week, this will produce greater lean muscle mass.

Diet: Put your attention on lowering insulin resistance by eating fewer carbohydrates and more protein, the building block of muscle.

Sleep: 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night are recommended if you want to recuperate from this kind of workout completely.

Stress management: With the rise in inflammation and blood sugar that stress hormones like cortisol induce, chronically high stress can sabotage any self-improvement effort. Long-term high cortisol levels can contribute to persistent muscle tension and lactic acid buildup, which can inhibit muscle growth. Moving your body more, going outside, eating more good foods, being an aggressive communicator, and finding your purpose are the simplest ways to relieve chronic stress.

How to lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s?

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, doctors think there are a number of steps you may take to lower your risk.

“Protect” and “stimulate” are the two categories that these fall under, according to Nordvig, and “physical activity falls into both of these.”

“Protect” includes monitoring factors like blood pressure, sugar levels, weight, nutrition, and sleep, she said. These are topics covered at a yearly checkup.

We should also work to safeguard ourselves from environmental risk factors associated to Alzheimer’s, according to Dr. Rena Sukhdeo Singh, a vascular neurologist at the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health.

The incidence of dementia has also been connected to fine particulate matter in air pollution.

According to Sukhdeo Singh, systemic inflammation also contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Numerous factors, including medications, a diet high in sugar and processed foods, smoking, and binge drinking, can contribute to chronic inflammation.

Optimising additional daily inputs that influence cognition is what “stimulate” entails. For instance, Sukhdeo Singh proposed, “learning a new skill, hobby, language, or instrument,” or taking part in shorter activities like “sudokus, puzzles, and number games.”

Unfortunately, there are some factors that we have no control over. Age, genetics, and sex are non-modifiable risk variables, she added.

Restrictions of this research

Researchers solely considered lean muscle mass for this investigation. However, there are other things to think about.

The protein amyloid, which is damaging to the functioning of the brain, is found in higher amounts in adipose tissue, but the researchers neglected to test these signs of inflammation and insulin resistance, according to Maroon. “This probably diminishes the significance of their findings.”

Furthermore, “while their positive finding was statistically significant, the effect size was modest in lean muscle mass reducing the risk of dementia and only explained 10% of the variance,” added Dr. Sullivan.

The link between more lean muscle mass and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease has to be further investigated.

According to Nancy Mitchell, a registered nurse, “For now, people with lower muscle mass tend to be obese, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.”

We refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “diabetes of the brain” because it has been hypothesized that high blood sugar harms the nerve endings in the regions of the brain that are most impacted by cognitive decline. Therefore, the link may actually be between a reduced risk of obesity and diabetes. This can be a study drawback in and of itself because greater specificity is still needed. Not all correlations indicate causation. Nancy Mitchell is a nurse practitioner.


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