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Eat Less for More Smarts?

Posted Oct 23 2008 9:03pm

First, here’s the bad news: cutting calories way down can strengthen your brain cells, slow the aging process, and lengthen your life span. Well, it’s good news actually, but only if you don’t mind cutting your calories down to around 2000-1500 per day.

There is overwhelming evidence, at least on laboratory animals such as single cell amoebae and mice, that eating fewer calories can extend the life span.

It’s true. Cutting down on calories slows down the aging process throughout your body, including your brain. It may have something to do with the fact that your body consumes enormous energy to process and digest nutriments.

In order to metabolize calories, you must burn oxygen, which generates free radicals. Free radicals damage brain cells. By eating less, the body has less work to do, and more energy available to the immune and repair systems.

When you overeat, you damage your cells faster. When lab animals are put on low-calorie diets, trimming 30 to 40 percent off their food intake, they live one-third to one-half times longer than expected! Such animals remain younger than their counterparts fed on a normal calorie diet. Everything about them is younger including their brains and memories.

For example, islanders on Okinawa for years ate a diet with 17 to 40 percent fewer calories than other Japanese, had 30 to 40 percent less chronic disease, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

One scientist, Dr. Mattson, finds that restricting calories may help immunize brain cells against damage and disease by bucking up nerve cells to make them stronger and resistant to damage. Overeating weakens or primes brain cells for damage. Mildly starving cells by providing fewer calories actually cause them to grow stronger. When stressed, the cells switch on certain genes that increase levels of growth factor in the brain, making the cells more resistant to damage from free radicals that are involved in brain degeneration.

However, telling people to cut down calorie intake is a hard sell. Even in spite of the fact that burning more calories is proven to weaken the brain cells and accelerates the aging process, people don’t like cutting down on calories.

I just thought you'd like to know this important fact. Even if you look good, and exercise, and have a pretty attractive body and don't need to diet, you might want to eat less anyway.

Eating fewer calories can help boost your brain power and slow down the aging process.

Rats! Just when I thought it wouldn't hurt to eat dessert first...

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