Ask anyone, and they can probably name one or a few chronic brain conditions we all face as we age. But they probably don’t know that fasting is the key to healing the brain.
And how exactly do you prevent them? Easy. Try fasting.
That bold statement isn’t coming from me. It’s based on extensive research that’s been done by individuals such as Dr. Mark Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging.
Dr. Mattson is also a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University. He’s received numerous awards, including the Alzheimer’s Association Zenith Award. So he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the human brain. And that’s why a TEDx Talk in which he highlights his findings is currently going viral.
In the TEDx Talk, he says:
“Why is it that the normal diet is three meals a day plus snacks? It isn’t that it’s the healthiest eating pattern, now that’s my opinion, but I think there is a lot of evidence to support that.
There are a lot of pressures to have that eating pattern, there’s a lot of money involved. The food industry — are they going to make money from skipping breakfast like I did today?
No, they’re going to lose money. If people fast, the food industry loses money. What about the pharmaceutical industries? What if people do some intermittent fasting, exercise periodically and are very healthy, is the pharmaceutical industry going to make any money on healthy people?”
Dr. Mattson backs up that viewpoint with more than a decade of research.
One study reads:
“Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in a variety of species, including rats, mice, fish, flies, worms, and yeast.
CR reduces metabolic rate and oxidative stress, improves insulin sensitivity, and alters neuroendocrine and sympathetic nervous system function in animals.”
Simply put, fasting increases your brainpower.
In his talk, Dr. Mattson also shared that challenges to your brain, whether they be intermittent fasting or vigorous exercise, are cognitive challenges.
“Neurocircuits are activated, levels of neurotrophic factors increase,” he said. “That promotes the growth of neurons [and] the formation and strengthening of synapses.”
Dr. Mattson also believes that intermittent fasting enhances the ability of nerve cells to repair DNA.
The history of evolution supports his findings. For example, did you know that the “three meals a day” cycle is something relatively new?
So how do you fast properly?
It should go without saying that if you just stop eating for a whole day after having eaten 3+ meals per day, you’re going to have a bad time. Here’s a much more reasonable fast you can try if it’s your first go.
The BBC’s Michael Mosley used this to reverse his diabetes and high cholesterol. It’s known as the 5:2 diet. When on the diet, you cut your food down to 1/4th of your normal calories on fasting days, which will be two days out of your week. On the other 5 days, you’ll eat normally.