Neuroscientists at NYU Langone Medical Center have shown that calorie-restrictive diets (especially those low in carbohydrates) hinder the usual rise and fall in activity levels of about 900 different genes linked to aging and memory formation in the brain.
For the study, researchers fed food pellets to female mice (which, like human females, are more susceptible to dementia than males) that had 30% fewer calories than those fed to other mice. They then performed tissue analyses of the mice's hippocampus, the area of the brain first affected by Alzheimer's, once they reached middle-to-late adulthood, to evaluate any changes in gene expression over time.
In a press release, senior study investigator Stephen D. Ginsberg said, "Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the aging phenotype — how some genes determine the behavior of mice, people, and other mammals as they get old."
But don't think that calorie restriction is some magical "fountain of youth," he cautioned. For now, as with any preliminary study, until further research is done, the results just "add evidence for the role of diet in delaying the effects of aging and age-related disease."
If nothing else, this study shows us how important it is to be mindful of what we put in our body. We certainly don't need to obsess over it, as that is an unhealthy state of mind — but hey, if cutting out some carbs and doing a crossword a day could lead to a sharper mind later in life, they're certainly worth considering.
What do you make of the recent findings?