Fasting twice a week can help protect against brain diseases
by The Guardian
04:46 AM Feb 20, 2012
LONDON - Fasting for regular periods could help protect the brain against degenerative illnesses, according to American scientists.
Researchers at the National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore in the United States said they had found evidence which shows that periods of stopping virtually all food intake for one or two days a week could protect the brain against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments.
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 per cent and a similar effect has been noted in humans.
But Professor Mark Mattson, head of the institute's laboratory of neurosciences, and his team have taken this notion further.
They argue that 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 can stave off not just ill-health and early death but delay the onset of conditions affecting the brain, including strokes.
But Dr Mattson warned that reducing one's overall 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," he said. "In other words, timing appears to be a crucial element to this process."
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