A low-fat diet and restricting calorie intake helps reduce brain aging in mice, new research finds.
Eating around 40% less food helped preserve the brain in old age even better than exercise.
Dr Bart Eggen, who led the study, said:
“Obesity and aging are both prevalent and increasing in societies worldwide, but the consequences for the central nervous system are not well understood
We determined if a high- or low-fat diet, in combination with exercise and food restriction, impacted microglia during aging in mice.”
The microglia are cells in the brain that help regulate normal functioning.
When these cells stop working properly, the brain begins to degrade.
For the study mice were either fed a high- or low-fat diet — with some receiving 40% fewer calories than normal.
Some also did plenty of exercise.
Dr Eggen explained the results:
“Aging-induced inflammatory activation of microglia could only be prevented when mice were fed a low-fat diet in combination with limited caloric intake.
A low-fat diet per se was not sufficient to prevent these changes.”
The researchers hope to look at the effects of different diets.
Dr Eggen said:
“Nevertheless, these data do show that, in mice, the fat content of a diet is an important parameter in terms of the detrimental effects of aging on the brain, as well as caloric intake.
Only when fat content and caloric intake are limited, can aging-induced changes in microglia be prevented.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience (Yin et al., 2018).