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Originally published December 27 2009

Low Leptin Levels Increase Risk of Age-Related Mental Decline

by Dr. David Jockers

(NaturalNews) Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine recently discovered that individuals with lower levels of circulating leptin had an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer Disease (AD).

Leptin, a hormone produced by the visceral and subcutaneous adipose (fat) tissue, is critical in regulating caloric intake and fat stores. As calories are consumed this powerful hormone is secreted into the circulatory system where it makes its way up to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus contains specialized receptors within the metabolic control center that respond to leptin. Leptin's effect is to cause feelings of satiety and to increase energy expenditure, particularly from stored body fat.

Chronic inflammation from dietary stress, heavy metal toxicity, or environmental pollutants can damage the hypothalamaic leptin receptors, causing a condition called leptin resistance. Leptin resistance is characterized by an inability for the hypothalamus to respond to high circulating insulin levels. This causes increased appetite and weight gain.

The new study suggests that leptin plays an important role in the hippocampus, a critical area that functions to facilitate memory processes. Results of the study showed that individuals with the highest levels of leptin had a 6% risk of developing AD during 12 years compared with a 25% risk for those with the lowest leptin levels.

"It's interesting and exciting because it's a new pathway that was not previously suspected to be directly involved in AD in humans," said lead author Sudha Seshadri, MD, associate professor of neurology, Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts.

Leptin is known to play a critical role in energy metabolism and has also been shown to stimulate angiogenesis (arterial formation). It is through this mechanism, by stimulating the hippocampus and increasing blood supply, that many believe the study results were produced.

This new pathway gives us a better understanding of some of the key mechanisms behind age related memory loss and the increase in these conditions over the last 20 years. Leptin levels are influenced heavily by diet and lifestyle, which thus far have been relatively ignored by mainstream medicine.

For example, several studies have shown that high fructose intake causes leptin resistance and elevated triglycerides in rats. High fructose corn syrup is virtually ubiquitous in the processed foods that make up much of the American diet.

Balance Leptin Levels Naturally:

1.Reduce sugar & grain consumption: Sugar, high fructose corn syrup and heavy doses of grains such as wheat, oats, rice, & starchy vegetables will increase leptin resistance, while also limiting the body's ability to stimulate leptin release.
2.Avoid High Omega 6 fats and Trans-Fats: These fats inflame the body.
3.Healing Diet: Build your meals around non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats such as avocados, extra-virgin coconut & olive oils, grass-fed meat and free-range eggs, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, walnuts, hemp, flax, & chia seeds.
4.Train For Maximal Fat Burning: High intensity exercise for short duration stimulates large secretions of human growth hormone, which enhances fat burning mechanisms and helps to modulate leptin levels.
5.Sleep Well: Leptin levels typically rise during sleep. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation decreases circulating leptin levels and leads to insensitivity, over-eating, weight-gain and mental decline. Best to eat 3-4 hours before bed and be in bed for sure by 11pm.

1. JAMA. 2009;302:2565-2572.
5."Fructose Sets Table For Weight Gain Without Warning". Science News. Science Daily. 2008-10-19. Retrieved 2008-11-15.
6.Vasselli JR (November 2008). "Fructose-induced leptin resistance: discovery of an unsuspected form of the phenomenon and its significance. Focus on "Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high-fat feeding," by Shapiro et al.". Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 295 (5): R1365-9. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.90674.2008. PMID 18784330.
7.Shapiro A, Mu W, Roncal C, Cheng KY, Johnson RJ, Scarpace PJ (November 2008). "Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high-fat feeding". Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 295 (5): R1370-5. doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00195.2008. PMID 18703413.

About the author

Dr. David Jockers owns and operates Exodus Health Center in Kennesaw, Ga. He is a Maximized Living doctor. His expertise is in weight loss, customized nutrition & exercise, & structural corrective chiropractic care. For more information go to To find a Maximized Living doctor near you go to

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