25 May 2021

Brain and interval fasting

A way to improve memory and trigger the generation of new brain cells has been identified


Scientists at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King's College London have determined that intermittent fasting can improve long-term memory and cause the generation of new neurons in the brain. At the same time, it is more effective than the daily calorie restriction. The researchers' conclusions are based on experiments with a mouse model, but the results of the study may help reduce cognitive impairment in older people. This is reported in the journal Molecular Psychiatry (Dias et al., Intermittent fasting enhances long-term memory consolidation, adult hippocampal neurogenesis, and expression of longevity gene Klotho).

It is known that daily calorie restriction and intermittent fasting contribute to prolonging life and improve cognitive abilities, but it is not known how these two approaches differ in the effects they have on the body. In a new study, scientists tested how intermittent fasting (every other day) affects cognitive abilities and neurogenesis in the hippocampus (responsible for the formation of long-term memory) compared with calorie restriction (up to 10 percent of daily intake).

After three months of intermittent fasting, female mice had improved long-term memory, which was accompanied by an increase in the number of cells in the hippocampus. A central role in this was played by the Klotho (Kl) gene, whose activity is known to be associated with prolongation of life in experimental animals, and its absence accelerates premature aging. The production of Klotho gene proteins decreases with age, which partly explains the decline in cognitive functions in older people.

This is confirmed by the fact that suppression of KI in hippocampal progenitor cells during the experiment leads to a decrease in neurogenesis, while overexpression of KI increases neurogenesis. In general, intermittent fasting is superior to calorie restriction in terms of improving memory.

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