Can fasting make you smarter?

Let’s connect a couple of topics today…

Earlier this week, we posted how aeorobic exercise can stimulate neurogenesis — the growth of new brain cells.

And, last month, we posted that recent research suggests that intermittent fasting (e.g constrain daily eating to 8 hours – fasting for the other 16 hours) may be a better route to weight loss and improved health.


Among the health benefits cited is lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.


More specifically…

As reported at a symposium held by the Society for Neuroscience:

It’s becoming clear that the advantages of intermittent fasting (also known as IER – intermittent energy release) are even further reaching, with enormous implications for brain health.

Human and non-human animal studies have shown that IER:

  • Increases synaptic plasticity (a biological marker of learning and memory)
  • Enhances performance on memory tests in the elderly
  • Leads to the growth of new neurons
  • Promotes recovery after stroke or traumatic brain injury
  • Decreases risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s
  • May play a preventative and therapeutic role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

The underlying idea behind the science is simple:

Periodically challenge your cells and biological systems (by food deprivation) in a controlled way, and these cells and systems will become stronger, more efficient, and better able to handle the daily stresses that come their way.

It’s the same basic idea that underlies weight-training and other forms of exercise. Damage your muscles (a little bit) to build them up (a lot).  Source


Bottom line:

There are two fundamental paths to improving brain health — i.e. getting smarter and staying smarter longer — are  neurogenesis (stimulate growth of new brain cells) and neuroplasticity (“rewire” your brain by building new neural pathways).

And two ways to achieve neurogenesis are aerobic exercise and intermittent fasting.


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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One Response to “Can fasting make you smarter?”

  1. Brain health: The MIND diet. | The Homa Files Says:

    […] Can fasting make you smarter? and Is breakfast […]

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