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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015, Article ID 569869, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/569869
Review Article

Physical Activity Protects the Human Brain against Metabolic Stress Induced by a Postprandial and Chronic Inflammation

1Natura Foundation, Edisonstraat 66, 3281 NC Numansdorp, Netherlands
2Department of Laboratory Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), University of Groningen, P.O. Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, Netherlands
3Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Received 11 February 2015; Accepted 27 April 2015

Academic Editor: Gianfranco Spalletta

Copyright © 2015 Leo Pruimboom et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In recent years, it has become clear that chronic systemic low-grade inflammation is at the root of many, if not all, typically Western diseases associated with the metabolic syndrome. While much focus has been given to sedentary lifestyle as a cause of chronic inflammation, it is less often appreciated that chronic inflammation may also promote a sedentary lifestyle, which in turn causes chronic inflammation. Given that even minor increases in chronic inflammation reduce brain volume in otherwise healthy individuals, the bidirectional relationship between inflammation and sedentary behaviour may explain why humans have lost brain volume in the last 30,000 years and also intelligence in the last 30 years. We review evidence that lack of physical activity induces chronic low-grade inflammation and, consequently, an energy conflict between the selfish immune system and the selfish brain. Although the notion that increased physical activity would improve health in the modern world is widespread, here we provide a novel perspective on this truism by providing evidence that recovery of normal human behaviour, such as spontaneous physical activity, would calm proinflammatory activity, thereby allocating more energy to the brain and other organs, and by doing so would improve human health.