Could Cutting Calories Help Slow Brain Aging Could Cutting Calories Help Slow Brain Aging

Could Cutting Calories Help Slow Brain Aging?


  • Our brain naturally changes as we age, impacting tasks like memory and learning.

  • Prior studies indicate that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, can slow brain ageing.

  • Researchers at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging have discovered that limiting calorie intake may also play a role in preserving brain health.

  • This research pinpointed a specific gene that benefits from calorie restriction, supporting crucial processes for healthy brain ageing.

As we age, our bodies, including our brains, naturally change, affecting functions like memory and learning.

According to the National Institute on Aging, previous research highlights that adopting a healthy lifestyle involving physical activity, stress management, social connections, and proper nutrition can slow down brain ageing.

Recent research from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, CA, suggests that limiting food intake may also protect the ageing brain. This study, published in Nature Communications, identified a specific gene that benefits from calorie restriction, supporting the processes essential for maintaining a healthy brain as we age.

How Calorie Restriction Affects Brain Ageing

Studying the impact of calorie restriction on brain ageing is essential because it's a significant intervention for the ageing process, and the brain is vulnerable as we age.

This research seeks to understand factors influenced by dietary restrictions that can protect the brain. Many people practice caloric restriction, such as intermittent fasting, and this study is a starting point to explore its effects on brain ageing.

For instance, research from February 2021 suggested that dietary restriction may help safeguard the brain against neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration.

Age-related diseases pose a significant challenge in the 21st century, with age being the primary risk factor for brain-related conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Finding ways to delay or slow the ageing process is crucial since there are currently no effective treatments for these neurodegenerative diseases.

Identifying The Gene Affected By Calorie Restriction

In this study, researchers examined the effects of calorie restriction on brain ageing using fruit fly models and human cells.

They conducted experiments with 160 strains of fruit flies, each with distinct genetic backgrounds. These flies were raised on a regular diet or containing only 10% of their usual nutrition.

The research identified five genes with specific variants significantly impacting lifespan during dietary restriction. One of these genes, analogous to the oxidation resistance 1 (OXR1) gene in humans and rodents, is called the "mustard" gene in fruit flies.

Prior studies have suggested that depletion of OXR1 gene products is a common feature in neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's disease and diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, research in mice indicates that increased expression of OXR1 may offer protection against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The Role Of Protein ‘Recycling’ In Ageing

Furthermore, scientists discovered that the OXR1 gene plays a role in the function of the retromer, a cellular complex responsible for sorting proteins and determining which ones can be reused by the body.

Recycling damaged components is essential for a cell's functioning, much like recycling is vital in our daily lives. The retromer handles the recycling of proteins and lipids within cells.

This revelation was surprising because the protein associated with the OXR1 gene, previously thought to be involved in responding to oxidative stress or detoxification, is now found to have a role in the retromer function.

These findings could lead to identifying therapeutic targets for slowing down the ageing process and age-related neurodegenerative diseases in the future.

Understanding the factors that enhance or inhibit brain resilience is crucial for slowing ageing. Simple dietary changes that increase OXR1 levels in the brain offer protection.

Researchers have boosted OXR1 in flies through genetic manipulation and plan to explore the development of therapeutic approaches using small molecules that increase OXR1 expression in the ageing brain.

Further Studies Should Assess The Link Between Diet And Brain Ageing

In addition, we consulted with a neurologist regarding this study.

Determining which findings can be applied to guide healthy eating for neurologists and their patients remains a challenge. While dietary restriction has precise mechanisms of action, promoting metabolism and fat burning as individuals age, further research should explore its effects in more complex organisms beyond fruit flies and yeast. However, these simpler organisms serve as a starting point for research.

Dietary and caloric restriction merit further investigation to assess whether excessive caloric intake in our culture may be more harmful than beneficial. A healthy diet also plays a role in reducing the risk of stroke and cerebrovascular diseases.

The growing use of injectable medications for weight loss may effectively put many individuals on a diet-restricted regimen. This group could serve as valuable data for future research into the potential benefits of dietary restriction in preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.

Hopefully, scientists will apply the findings from this study to more complex organisms than fruit flies and yeasts. Collaboration between researchers who could use data from human patients using injectable weight loss medications to design studies incorporating human clinical data is also suggested.

Mobi Doctor is here to provide assistance and support for your healthcare needs. Whether it's medical consultations, guidance, or information, Mobi Doctor can help you make informed decisions about your health.


Write a Comment