Exploring the effect of intermittent fasting on brain function and cognitive function


Many diets aim to lose weight or reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, for example by eating less and modifying eating habits.

Can intermittent fasting help the brain and cognitive functions? Research results sometimes vary, but some tentative conclusions can be drawn from this. This is what the researchers at Radboudumc . determine Nutrients Magazine.

Nutrition is important for good health and growth, as it contributes to the proper functioning of the digestive system, immune system and brain. Many diets aim to lose weight or reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, for example by eating less and modifying eating habits. One such diet is periodic fasting, or intermittent fasting (IF).

Diet and thinking
This diet does not eat at fixed intervals. In periodic fasting, people do not eat at specific times. Fasting periods range from 12 to 48 hours. There is no limit to eating in between. If it is known to have positive effects on the metabolism (metabolic health). But does diet also affect brain health and cognitive performance? And maybe it also protects against some brain disorders, such as dementia? Considered by Jeb Godin, Alejandro Arias Vazquez and Mirjam Blumendal of Radbodomic. They evaluated the results of different studies and published their conclusions in the journal Nutrients.

switching power supply
During periods of fasting, metabolism changes. Jeb Gooden, MD, researcher in the Department of Psychiatry: “When people do not fast, the energy needed for the body’s cells (muscle cells, brain cells, etc.) is made up of sugar (glucose) from ingested food. That changes during fasting. Then the energy source is made up of released fats. From body fat These fats are converted into ketones, which have positive effects on brain health For example, ketones and low sugar levels activate the brain’s “cleanup processes”. Certain processes are also initiated that make brain cells more resistant to the negative impact of oxidative stress. “.

The nuances
The study provides an accurate picture. Miriam Blumendahl of the Department of Psychiatry: “In clinical studies in patients with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, intermittent fasting has shown positive effects on symptoms and disease progression. In animal studies, we see positive effects on traits associated with Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and autism spectrum disorders, and mood and anxiety disorders.” According to Bloemendaal, it underscores the need for studies looking at the role of intermittent fasting in people with (at risk) such conditions. In healthy people, no positive effect on cognitive performance was found in the short term.

Interesting follow up search
Future research should show whether the positive effects of IF also depend, for example, on the age at which fasting begins and whether the outcome depends on a metabolic state, such as obesity or overweight. “Well done human research should begin to provide a clearer picture of the long-term effects of IF on the prevention and progression of brain disease,” said geneticist Alejandro Arias Vazquez. In addition, differences in fasting pattern, total caloric intake, and use of specific nutrients may also be relevant to IF success. Follow-up research should focus on well-designed studies with a control group and studies that monitor the effect of IF over a longer period of time.”


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Name of author and/or editor by: radbodomic
Photographer or photographic agency: INGImages
The source of this article: radbodomic
What is the URL for this resource?: https://www.radboudumc.nl/nieuws/2021/het-effect-van-periodiek-vasten-op-hersenen-en-cognitieve-functies
original title: The effect of intermittent fasting on brain and cognitive functions
the target audience: Health care professionals and students
date: 2021-11-21

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