How Intermittent Fasting Boosts Brain Power | Mark Mattson


What I’m gonna tell you today is that fasting
does good things for the brain. One thing that happens when you fast that
does not happen when you eat three meals a day is that your energy metabolism shifts
so that you start burning fats. And you produce what are called ketone bodies. Now it turns out, ketone bodies are very good
for your brain and I’ll talk about that in a minute. So what do I mean by intermittent fasting
or intermittent energy restriction? There’s a lot of variations that are being
used on this. This book called the 8 hour diet – there’s
evidence that if you restrict the time window that you eat each day to eight hours or less,
that’s long enough to shift the energy metabolism. OK why does fasting bolster brain power? Fasting is a challenge to your brain and your
brain responds to that challenge of not having food by activating adaptive stress response
pathways that help your brain cope with stress and resist disease. Why is it that way? Well, if you’re hungry and haven’t found food,
you better figure out how to find food. You don’t want your brain to shut down and
in fact, that’s what we find in the animals – nerve cells circuits are more active. Some of the changes in the brain that occur
with intermittent fasting also occur with vigorous exercise. Exercise and intermittent fasting both increase
the production of proteins in the brain that are called Neurotrophic Factors. We found that these neurotrophic factors such
as FGF and one called BDNF, brain derived neurotrophic factor, promote the growth of
neurons, promote the connection of neurons and strengthening of the synapses. Recently we discovered that fasting by increasing
BDNF levels in the brain, this neurotrophic factor, can increase the number of mitochondria
in your nerve cells. I mentioned ketones which come from burning
fat and that happens during fasting. We’re doing… my work in my lab trying to
understand why ketones are good for neurons – one reason is they provide an alternative
fuel for the neurons that boost the energy levels in the neurons. So, I’m gonna end with this slide and thank
you very much for your attention and try it out. You can just play around with this, and you’ll
find on the days that you don’t eat so much, you’re more productive. Thank you.

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