What Fasting Does To Your Brain & Why Big Pharma Won’t Study It




What you will find here is the TEDx talk and presentation made by Mark Mattson, the head of the Lab of Neuroscience at the National Institute of Aging.

Mr. Mattson is also a professor at Johns Hopkins University specializing in neuroscience and one of the leading researchers and experts in the field of molecular and cellular mechanisms the basis of many neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

The use of the term Big Pharma in this article’s title is suitable to the true meaning of this industry.

In the last decade, there were numerous examples and proof of the calculating studies conducted by the most famous pharmaceutical companies. That’s why, Arnold Seymour Relman, a professor of Medicine at Harvard University, has recently shared his opinion with the public – he said that the medical profession has been bribed and bought by Big Pharma.

That’s why the editor of The Lancer, Dr. Richard Horton, has commented that most of the scientific and expert literature revealed today is false and incorrect.

That’s why Dr. Marcia Angell who was once Editor in Chief of the reputed The New England Journal of Medicine claims that even though the pharmaceutical companies and pharmaceutical industry, in general, are trying to show themselves as an industry that is investing a lot of money in research and development of new drugs, the fact is that they are not doing anything important.

Finally, this is the reason why the famous epidemiologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Professor John Ioannidis, shared an article that was focused on determining why the vast majority of research findings are actually untrue. This article became an instant hit.

There is another reason why we have included the term Big Pharma in the title and that’s Dr. Mark Mattson’s remarks at the end of the video. He says that he doesn’t believe that having three meals each day and eating snacks between these meals is not really a normal diet and that there is sufficient evidence to confirm that.

However, the food industry and the pharmaceutical industry will lose an enormous amount of money if people start changing their habits. The same goes for the cases when people decide to start exercising. If we are healthy and we occasionally practice fasting, the pharmaceutical industry will collapse and the food industry will suffer.

The Main Idea of This Article and The Scientific Evidence to Support This Idea

Dr. Mattson and his team of scientists have released a few scientific papers focused on the effects of fasting two days a week. They claim that this practice reduces the chances of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

For many years, people were well aware of the effects of changes in diet on our brains. For instance, children who deal with epileptic seizures will significantly reduce the number of episodes in case they are practicing facts or caloric restrictions. Many scientists claim that fasting supports the triggering of protective activities that help neutralize the hyper signals that the brain affected by epilepsy often displays.

It is worth mentioning that some children suffering from epilepsy have experienced benefits from a special diet that is low in carbs and high in fat. If a normal brain is overfed, this practice can lead to an unrestrained reaction that will disturb the brain’s normal functioning. These findings by Dr. Mattson and his team were revealed in the reputed Nature Reviews Neuroscience journal.

So, if we take a close look at studies dealing with caloric restriction and fasting, we will notice that most of them suggest that people following these practices usually live longer and they have less chance of developing chronic disease and even if they are suffering from such diseases they can easily fight them.

CR or calorie restriction improves lifespan and slows down chronic diseases related to aging in many different species like fish, mice, worms, flies, and yeast for example. Unfortunately, the natural mechanisms that provide these benefits are still not found.

This is a conclusion from a scientific review of literature and papers that are more than a decade old. Thanks to Money Life we can now determine some of the mechanisms.

There is no doubt that fasting has positive effects on the human brain and this is something that we can easily confirm by looking at the positive neurochemical transformations that take place in our brain when we fast. In addition, fasting also leads to better cognitive function, improves neurotrophic factors, improves resistance to stress and anxiety, and soothes inflammation.

This practice can be viewed as a challenge to the brain and the human brain’s reaction to this challenge comes in the form of adjusting stress response pathways that are here to aid the brain deal with stress and chances of developing disease. The transformation that happens in the brain while fasting imitates the transformation that usually appears when we are involved in regular physical activity. Both practices improve the production of protein in our brain, which ultimately means improved neuron growth, strengthening the link between each neuron and boosting synapses.

According to the literature, we have mentioned before, these challenges to our brains, induced by fasting or strenuous physical activity are cognitive challenges in their nature. When we experience something like this, our body triggers neuro-circuits, increases the neurotrophic factor levels, and all the things we have mentioned in the previous paragraph.

In addition, fasting can also support and increase the production of completely new nerve cells that come from the stem cells found in the hippocampus. Experts also talk about ketones (a well-known energy source crucial for neurons) and the effects of fasting on ketones production and its ability to improve the number of mitochondria in each neuron. The same goes for the number of mitochondria in nerve cells because the neurons tend to adjust to the stress caused by fasting.

With the increase in the number of mitochondria in neurons, the neurons’ ability to produce and manage links between them increases too which ultimately means better learning abilities and memory.

Sporadic fasting improves the ability of nerve cells to fix damaged DNA.

Dr. Mattson explains the evolutionary side of this interesting theory. He claims that it is in our genetic code to survive a long time without food because it is a known fact that our earliest ancestors were often left without food.

A scientific study revealed about 6 months ago in the Cell Stem Cell Journal by scientists from the University of Southern California has confirmed that intermittent cycles of relatively long fasting help the immune system fight off damage and trigger regeneration of the immune system. What they have figured out is that fasting changes stem cells from a state of sleeping/rest to a state in which they are renewing themselves. This starts regeneration carried by stem cells focused on specific organs or systems.

Besides tests on animals, there were human clinical trials that involved patients who were getting chemotherapy. Participants were asked to stay away from food for certain periods of time which obviously lead to reduced white blood cell amount. When it comes to mice, these fasting cycles triggered a regenerative switch, altering the signaling pathways used by hematopoietic stem cells. These cells are playing a crucial role in the improvement of the immune system and the production of blood.

In other words, this trial has proven that fasting eliminates damaged and old immune cells, and once the body stabilizes it relies on stem cells to generate completely new, healthy cells.

According to Valter Longo who was one of the authors of this study, they didn’t expect fasting to produce such incredible results when it comes to supporting regeneration of the hematopoietic system with the help of stem cells. When people starve, their system enters an energy-saving mode and one way to save energy is by recycling the immune cells that are not used because they are old or damaged. Both animal and human subjects have experienced a lowering in the number of white blood cells in cases of long fasting. Once you start feeding normally the blood cell level stabilizes. (source)

The well-known The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published Money Life related to fasting about 8 years ago. This review included a thorough analysis of animal and human studies and the final conclusion was that fasting is a very efficient and relatively safe way to lower the chances of developing cancer and cardiovascular disease. There was evidence of positive results in cases of diabetes too.

Pre-Fasting Tips

If you have decided to start fasting, before you actually do this, it is highly recommended to do your homework. This is especially important for those who have never practiced something like this before.

There is one way that was tested and proven to be good by Michael Mosley from BBC. He used this diet to treat his diabetes, high levels of cholesterol, and a few similar problems that are related to obesity. This diet is called the 5:2 diet which is quite a logical name because you will need to cut down the food to ¼ of what you usually eat (in terms of calories) on days when you are fasting (so, approximately 500 calories for women and 500 for men) while taking huge amounts of tea and water. You should feel free to eat in the same way as before for the other five days.

There is another effective way to do this. You can limit food intake between specific times of the day (11 am and 7 pm) which means that you won’t eat anything outside of this time frame.

In other words, you must be careful of what you eat, how you eat, and when you eat.

Under this article, you can find a video featuring one of the most famous doctors in the world – Dr. Joseph Mercola. In this video, he is sharing his knowledge about the advantages of practicing intermittent fasting. You can also read the exceptional article written by Dr. Mercola in which he shares more details about the benefits of intermittent fasting and how it can protect our health.

Via Money Life

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