Fewer calories may be good for the brain’s health and may help prevent debilitating ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study.
Researchers found that low calorie consumption can lead to people not only having the potential to live longer, but also to enjoy a significantly higher quality of life in their later years.
The team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used a powerful new gene-scanning technique to analyze brain-aging activities in mice. The technique, known as the ‘gene chip,’ monitors activity levels for thousands of individual genes at once. Gene activities associated with an inflammatory response in the body, and free radical molecules that can damage cells over time, are believed to be significant factors in the development of Alzheimer’s.
In this groundbreaking new study, scientists placed a group of mice on a standard diet while another group only received 76 percent of this standard. The results showed that a reduced-calorie diet lowered the age-associated increase in gene activity.
A reduced-calorie diet is so far the only known method of slowing aging in several species of animals. Although the mechanism that makes this work is not yet known, these findings allow new understanding of the relationship between brain health and diet. “This could facilitate the development of interventions – drugs, dietary modifications – to retard aging in the brain,’ stated Richard Weindruch, one of the study’s authors and an authority on caloric restriction and aging.
This advance in understanding of the relationship between genes and brain health in mice provides an arena for testing new drugs aimed at the prevention of aging processes in humans.