The topic of fasting and Alzheimer’s has been on my mind lately because, well, Alzheimer’s is always on my mind and because recently a friend of mine got on this diet where you’re supposed to eat six small meals a day to trick your body into not storing fat.
Since intermittent fasting has been shown to slow body and brain aging, I wonder (the fat part aside) what this continual eating is doing to the brain.
From Psychology Today (2003):
It has been known for years that sharply restricting the calorie intake of laboratory animals increases their life span. But a new study by researchers from the National Institute on Aging found that mice that fasted every other day, then were allowed to eat what they wanted on the intervening days, seemed more resistant to diabetes than did control mice or animals on calorie-restricted diets. They were also resistant to a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease.
I keep going back to SIRT1: SIRT1 is an enzyme that, in addition to causing the body to produce its own glucose from fat, prevents the formation of toxic tau in the brain. But SIRT1 is only activated during fasting hours (short-term fasting):
SIRT1 is practically dormant in most people as we have a surplus of food. We consume, on average, about 30% more food than our bodies require every single day. It’s no wonder this gene went to sleep…
Hmm. Maybe the reason some of those nuns in the Nun Study had a huge load of beta amyloid plaque in their brains but showed no dementia in life is that they fasted periodically. Nobody can figure out why else:
Anyway, I decided to do a sort-of fast myself. For the month that my friend is doing her diet, I’m fasting between breakfast and dinner. It’s been two weeks, and, yes, I feel lighter, more clear-headed, richer, less worried (to be fair, I’ve added jogging a mile to my schedule, which helps a bunch).
Man, I can imagine all sorts of good our country could accomplish if everyone did a real Ramadan fast (FYI I’m a Christian) for a month. I don’t mean the perverted Ramadan fast where people gorge themselves after sundown and more than make up for the restricted food intake the rest of the day. I mean the real deal—cut out snacks and lunch.
Here’s what would happen: we’d cut down on healthcare costs because we’d be healthier; we’d be more productive because we would have more time and be more clear-headed; and we’d be able to save money and feed those less fortunate.
Maybe we should stop having “walk for Alzheimer’s day” and have “fast against Alzheimer’s day” instead. Or combine the two.
What do you think?