Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular eating plans for those hoping to shed a few pounds. According to a new study, slimming down isn’t the only perk — the diet can help our brains age healthier, too.
Researchers from King’s College in London shared the exciting news in an article for Molecular Psychiatry. Previous studies found that more traditional calorie-restricted diets can help boost brain health a bit, so they wanted to learn whether IF diets could do an even better job.
After observing two groups of mice (one fed calorie-restricted meals and one that followed every-other-day fasting), they discovered that IF was more effective at promoting something called the Klotho gene. This is also known as the “longevity gene” and plays an important role in adult neurogenesis, or the production of memory-enhancing neurons in our brains as we age.
Study author Dr. Sandrine Thuret said in a press release, “We now have a significantly greater understanding as to the reasons why intermittent fasting is an effective means of increasing adult neurogenesis. Our results demonstrate that Klotho is not only required, but plays a central role in adult neurogenesis and suggests that IF is an effective means of improving long-term memory retention in humans.”
The study didn’t elaborate on whether it’s best to follow the same every-other-day IF schedule. The real key seems to be that doing so resulted in those mice eating only about 10 percent less calories than they normally would rather than a more drastically restricted amount. This could mean we can likely boost our brains with a just slight tweak in our eating habits.
More research needs to be done with human participants, but it’s certainly a promising start — and great news for anyone already following an IF eating plan! We can add this to the list of other amazing benefits of intermittent fasting, like improving gut health, reducing risk of breast cancer, and, of course, losing weight.