Friday, February 13, 2009

Caloric restriction improves memory

From Witte et al:

Animal studies suggest that diets low in calories and rich in unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) are beneficial for cognitive function in age. Here, we tested in a prospective interventional design whether the same effects can be induced in humans. Fifty healthy, normal- to overweight elderly subjects (29 females, mean age 60.5 years, mean body mass index 28 kg/m2) were stratified into 3 groups: (i) caloric restriction (30% reduction), (ii) relative increased intake of UFAs (20% increase, unchanged total fat), and (iii) control. Before and after 3 months of intervention, memory performance was assessed under standardized conditions. We found a significant increase in verbal memory scores after caloric restriction (mean increase 20%; P less than 0.001), which was correlated with decreases in fasting plasma levels of insulin and high sensitive C-reactive protein, most pronounced in subjects with best adherence to the diet (all r values less than −0.8; all P values less than 0.05). Levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor remained unchanged. No significant memory changes were observed in the other 2 groups. This interventional trial demonstrates beneficial effects of caloric restriction on memory performance in healthy elderly subjects. Mechanisms underlying this improvement might include higher synaptic plasticity and stimulation of neurofacilitatory pathways in the brain because of improved insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammatory activity. Our study may help to generate novel prevention strategies to maintain cognitive functions into old age.

5 comments:

Tristan said...

Being a grad student who eats little, I like this study, but I'm always wary of studies of lifestyle. Our daily schedules are so nuanced and intertwined, it's really hard to draw causal relationships - of course I realize this is just a correlative study. But, in this case, for instance, maybe those that didn't eat as much replaced part of their diet with more coffee and hence had higher caffeine levels, or they slept better because their bodys' gastronomical effort was lower, or who knows!? I'm just saying this connection is tenuous, and I would like to see a more complete understanding of the lifestyle of the people involved in the study.

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Excellent advice to improve memory. Excess of everything is bad in life, so if you want to keep yourself healthy then use the less caloric food.

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