Dietary restriction: How much less should one eat to raise lifespan, reverse brain ageing?

Dietary restriction has potential to reduce onset of neurodegenerative brain illnesses, delays ageing

A woman gestures for a photograph. — X/@istock
A woman gestures for a photograph. — X/@istock

In the field of cognitive health, researchers at the Buck Institute have produced a ground-breaking finding concentrating on how dietary restriction—eating fewer meals—can delay cognitive ageing and increase lifespan.

The researchers discovered a neuron-specific response that is amplified by low-calorie diets and intermittent fasting. This response is regulated by the gene OXR1, according to Earth.

“When people restrict the amount of food that they eat, they typically think it might affect their digestive tract or fat buildup, but not necessarily about how it affects the brain,” said study first author Dr Kenneth Wilson. “As it turns out, this is a gene that is important in the brain.”

Dietary restriction reduces the onset of neurodegenerative brain illnesses and delays ageing, according to research done on human cells and fruit flies.

“We found a neuron-specific response that mediates the neuroprotection of dietary restriction,” said Professor Pankaj Kapahi.

“Strategies such as intermittent fasting or caloric restriction, which limit nutrients, may enhance levels of this gene to mediate its protective effects.”

Buck Professor Lisa Ellerby, PhD, co-senior author of the study, added, “The gene is an important brain resilience factor protecting against ageing and neurological diseases.”

In humans, OXR1 deficiency results in severe neurological impairments and early mortality, although OXR1 overexpression in mice prolongs survival in models of ALS.

Through extensive testing, the relationship between neurodegeneration, lifespan, and brain ageing was further explored.

It was discovered that OXR1 has an effect on the retromer complex, which is essential for sustaining neurons and recycling cellular lipids and proteins.

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