"Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want," said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences.
"In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process," Mattson told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.
Cutting daily food intake to around 500 calories ??? which amounts to little more than a few vegetables and some tea ??? for two days out of seven had clear beneficial effects in their studies, claimed Mattson, who is also professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.
Scientists have known for some time that a low-calorie diet is a recipe for longer life. Rats and mice reared on restricted amounts of food increase their lifespan by up to 40%. A similar effect has been noted in humans. But Mattson and his team have taken this notion further. They argue that starving yourself occasionally can stave off not just ill-health and early death but delay the onset of conditions affecting the brain, including strokes. "Our animal experiments clearly suggest this," said Mattson.
He and his colleagues have also worked out a specific mechanism by which the growth of neurones in the brain could be affected by reduced energy intakes. Amounts of two cellular messaging chemicals are boosted when calorie intake is sharply reduced, said Mattson. These chemical messengers play an important role in boosting the growth of neurones in the brain, a process that would counteract the impact of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
"The cells of the brain are put under mild stress that is analogous to the effects of exercise on muscle cells," said Mattson. "The overall effect is beneficial."
Thoughts or comments
asked byAgingHippie (614)
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on February 28, 2012
at 09:14 PM
I'm only 13 days into ADF (alternate day fasting) but I was successful with IF (intermittent fasting) for months prior to ADF. Based on my experiences so far, I absolutely believe fasting is very healing for our bodies and is a natural reset mechanism for our bodily systems. I enjoyed reading this review of recent research.
I definitely thrived on IF but it seemed to have more effect on appetite control (recovery from binge eating disorder) than basic health markers such as bg and bp. Now, on ADF, the basic health markers are definitely showing improvement. I must be well adapted to fasting thanks to IF because I have no negative consequences on my fasting days at all. None.
On my "feed" days, I feel and behave as if I'm still on IF--I don't eat more on my feed day than I used to eat per day on IF, and I am no more hungry than I was on IF. This morning I sipped 2 mugs of coffee with heavy cream and a little honey. I sure enjoyed that compared to black coffee yesterday!
It's 1 pm here in southern NV and I'm just starting to feel hunger pangs that will get me off the PC and motivated to fix a meal. Again, this will be the same fruit-salad-cooked veggies-meat meal I was eating every day. My food budget is getting a nice rest and my fat pads are shrinking, shrinking.
I try to be careful to explain that I didn't shift to ADF for accelerated fat loss--it's just a nice by-product. The n=1 experiment was about bg--82 this morning after fasting yesterday and 90 the day before after eating Saturday and Sunday--and bp, which is showing nice stabilization as well. I'm also intrigued by encouraging autophagy as I know I was chronically over-fed and under-nourished for years before using this emerging form of modern nutrition we call paleo.
on February 28, 2012
at 07:54 PM
Hi, AH! :)
This thread might be of interest to you:
Eating fat provides nutrients for regeneration, while providing rest, too.
There is some discussion of this at Peter Dobromylskyj's blog, Hyperlipid.
There are many gems in the comments after the blog posts. Here is a link to his post on rheumatoid arthritis and fasting:
Hope this is the kind of thing you were looking for. All the best to you. :)