Intermittent fasting may fuel neurogenesis and protect long-term memory

A new study on intermittent fasting has found that eating every other day may be beneficial when it comes to long-term memory, as well as enhancing the 'learning processes' and increasing neurogenesis. The findings were based on an evaluation of mice fed the intermittent fasting diet compared to other mice fed a traditional calorie restriction diet.

The new study comes from King's College London, where researchers found that intermittent fasting holds potential for slowing down the cognitive decline one experiences as one gets older. The IF protocol used in this study involved feeding mice every other day rather than feeding them a reduced-calorie diet every day.

By doing this, the researchers linked eating every other day with promoting the expression of the 'longevity gene,' at least in mice. The longevity gene, which is officially known as the Klotho gene, was found to have a 'central role' in neurogenesis — the formation of new neurons in an adult brain's hippocampal region.

Neurogenesis decreases as a person gets older, something many people attempt to deal with by taking supplements known as nootropics. Though studies on some of these substances have linked them to improvements in neurogenesis, they're also quite expensive and may not offer everyone who takes them the results they want.

In comparison, fasting is free as it involves simply not eating for a period of time. One of the researchers behind the study, Dr. Sandrine Thuret, explained:

We now have a significantly greater understanding as to the reasons why intermittent fasting is an effective means of increasing adult neurogenesis. Our results demonstrate that Klotho is not only required, but plays a central role in adult neurogenesis, and suggests that IF is an effective means of improving long-term memory retention in humans.

Future research may recreate the same diet protocols, but using humans instead of mice.