Grow New Brain Cells – Intermittent Fasting & Exercise

Grow New Brain Cells – Intermittent Fasting & Exercise

Grow New Brain Cells – Intermittent Fasting & Exercise 500 350 St. Louis, MO

I read an interesting neurological study recently, about mice, exercise and intermittent fasting.

But to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have shared it if I hadn’t dug deeper into what the main author had previously researched—and how she believes there’s some really good news about our brains that we were probably raised to believe was not possible.

Let’s tell the whole story the way I found it. It comes to us from King’s College London, where researchers wanted to figure out if intermittent fasting and exercise would spur the development of new hippocampal neurons, and thus improve memory performance in lab mice.

Their experiment ran three months and focused on brain genes known as Klotho. Researchers divided the mice into three groups:

  1. A control group of mice who were fed as they normally had been,
  2. A calorie-restricted group (CR), that had its daily food intake reduced by 10%, and
  3. An intermittent fasting group (IF), that had its food similarly reduced but was fed only every other day during the study.

In the end, the mice in the “IF” group (#3 above) had “improved long-term memory retention compared to the other groups,” according to a university press release. “When the brains of these mice were studied, it was apparent that the Klotho gene was upregulated, and neurogenesis increased compared to those that were on the CR diet.”

The study ran in the journal, Molecular Psychiatry.

“Our results demonstrate that Klotho … plays a central role in adult neurogenesis,” said Dr. Sandrine Thuret, who leads the Adult Neurogenesis & Mental Health Laboratory at King’s College, “and suggests that ‘IF’ is an effective means of improving long-term memory retention in humans.”

OK, kind of interesting, sure, but these are mice. However, I was prompted to do a bit of “etymologizing” and researching and putting my very non-scientific degrees to work on figuring out what the heck “adult neurogenesis” means.

It turns out that what it means is that something I had been taught and took as settled:

In short, I’d always understood that the brain was one of the few parts of the body that can’t regenerate.

Not so at all, says Thuret, who prior to doing this mice research gave a TED Talk on the subject called, quite literally: You can grow new brain cells. Here’s how.

Watch Thuret’s TED Talk here: https://www.ted.com/talks/sandrine_thuret_you_can_grow_new_brain_cells_here_s_how?language=en

This is a fairly new science and Thuret makes clear in her TED Talk by describing how she introduced the subject to a colleague who is a medical doctor, and who had never heard of it.

But by the time you turn 50 years old, Thuret says, your brain has regenerated to the point that all of the original neurons you were born with have been exchanged for newer, “adult-born neurons.”

Thus, the context in which this “hey, let’s see how mice do when we only feed them every other day” research was conducted is that researchers are trying to figure out if there are things that people can do to spur their growth and regeneration.

Sure enough, Thuret says, there are natural activities that encourage and discourage neurogenesis [new brain cells], such as:

  • Exercise, sleep, sex, and running? More neurogenesis.
  • Sleep deprivation, aging, and stress? Less neurogenesis.
  • Eating flavonoids and Omega-3 fatty acids, for example (think dark chocolate, blueberries, or fatty fish like salmon)? More neurogenesis.
  • Alcohol (sorry, but probably not a surprise)? Less neurogenesis.

Effective Exercise: Regrow Brain Cells

By SuperSlow Zone Research Team

Strength Training and Growing Brain Cells – Validated By Science

A.    How Weight Training Changes the Brain

In animals, weight training appeared to promote the creation of new neurons in the memory centers of the brain. Reference: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/24/well/move/how-weight-training-changes-the-brain.html

B.       One Secret Side Effect of Lifting Weights You Didn’t Know, Says Science: “…lifting weights is strongly associated with better brain performance.”

According to a study conducted by researchers in Australia and published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, lifting weights is strongly associated with better brain performance. The study recruited older participants between the ages of 55 and 86 and placed them into several groups, including one that lifted weights (at “80% of their peak strength”) twice per week for six months. Having taken cognitive tests along the way—including the Alzheimer’s disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive scale—those participants were shown improved significantly in “global cognition.”

“The more we can get people doing resistance training like weight lifting, the more likely we are to have a healthier ageing population,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Yorgi Mavros, of the University of Sydney, remarked in the official release. And for more life-changing exercise advice, see here for the Secret Exercise Tricks for Keeping Your Weight Down for Good.

According to a more recent meta-analysis of more than 20 published studies on the connection between weight training and cognitive function, published in 2019 in the journal Psychological Research, people who performed resistance exercises such as lifting weights experienced gains in attention, reasoning and memory.

What’s more, another study published last year by Australian researchers—this time in the journal NeuroImage: Clinical—found that lifting weights protects the brain from degenerating. The researchers found that lifting weights two times per week over six months significantly “slowed neurodegeration linked with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Scientists believe that resistance exercises such as lifting weights is particularly helpful at targeting your hippocampus, the part of your brain that’s responsible for memory function and learning. When you grow older, your hippocampus gets less blood flow and tends to shrink. Performing resistance exercises can help restore blood flow to this region.

According to Damian M. Bailey, Ph.D., a professor of physiology and biochemistry at the UK’s University of South Wales’ Neurovascular Research Unit and an advisor to the European Space Agency, performing squats specifically are effective at bolstering the brain, as performing them will “intermittently challenging the brain with an increase of blood flow and a decrease of blood flow.”

“This toing and froing from high-flow to low-flow challenges the inner lining of the arteries that supply blood to the brain,” he explained on the BBC 4 podcast “Just One Thing.” “We think this it’s good because it realizes the good chemicals that the brain needs to grow the things it needs to grow to become more intelligent.”

More studies back him up. According to 2019 study that gain a lot of attention, which published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, rats that were attached to weights that offered resistance experienced adaptations in their brain cells that enhanced their thinking abilities. “The study finds that weight training, accomplished in rodents with ladders and tiny, taped-on weights, can reduce or even reverse aspects of age-related memory loss,” wrote The New York Times. “The finding may have important brain-health implications for those of us who are not literal gym rats.”

Reference: https://www.eatthis.com/one-secret-side-effect-of-lifting-weights-you-didnt-know-says-science/

Small Life Changes

But honestly, I just find the whole thing very hopeful—whether it means that small changes in lifestyle (intermittent fasting, strength training, a diet change, getting more sleep,  etc), might help improve memory, why not give a few of them a try?

Bill Murphy Jr.