How FASTING is Boosting Cognitive Function (A LOT!!)
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How Reducing Calories Makes You Smarter
CR and Improvement in Working Memory
Some researchers argue that the effect of CR on cognition is only due to the weight loss and all the metabolic improvements which are associated with weight loss. However, in this study published in journal CNS Spectrum, the researchers conducted their research in a group of 220 healthy non-obese patients, minimizing the effect of weight loss. Subjects in the CR group ate 30% fewer calories than the control group and after two years, there was an improvement in working memory in this group. The longitude and sample size of this study gives this study scientific validity.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a similar study with 50 elderly people who stayed on a CR diet for 3 months. The study reported significant improvement in verbal memory in the CR group. Series of blood tests were also performed, and the CR group showed lower levels of C-reactive protein, a well-established inflammation biomarker and lower fasting levels of insulin.
The detrimental effect of insulin resistance on cognition is well known as the association between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is overwhelmingly strong. Even so strong that some researchers are now calling AD a type 3 diabetes.
In a study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, it was demonstrated that CR decreases inflammation of hypothalamus by attenuating the activation of microglial cells by lipopolysaccharides (LPS).
Insulin Resistance, Cognitive Performance and the Association with AD
Once our cells become insulin resistant, this pathway is not triggered, the GLUT transporter is not situated at the membrane and glucose transport into the brain is halted. All cells types inside our brain express insulin receptor as well and again, once the receptor is resistant to insulin, glucose cannot be transported into the neuron, astrocyte or microglia. These cells lack the energy substrate for the generation of ATP and neurodegeneration can begin as ATP is crucial for myriad of cellular militance processes.
CR restriction is a very feasible preventive method as proved by a systematic review published by Translational Research which reported that CR or intermittent fasting are very potent interventions for increasing insulin sensitivity.
In a study published in Neuroscience, administration of a dose of ketones replicating physiological range (0.02–2 mM) upregulated BDNF, a major contributor to neuronal activity, synaptic plasticity, learning and memory formation. In addition, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) induced an increase in acetylation of histones, making DNA more accessible to transcription factors (TF).
Promisingly, the study published in Physiology & Behavior reported that calorie restriction is promoting the expression of leptin receptors. Furthermore, CR stimulated STAT3, the major signalling pathway triggered by leptin. CR offers a way out of leptin resistance.