According to recent research, certain sorts of food fasting, mildly stresses the brain and encourages extra activity. I guess that makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. If you’re deprived of food, your brain works harder to help you find something to eat.
Eating only 600 calories in only one meal on alternate days, encourages an increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein made in the brain. In some areas of the brain it can increase by 400%.
It’s involved in the process of generating new brain cells, and in learning and memory. It’s also thought to protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Of course, this flies in the face of the advice we’ve heard since childhood: Start the day with a healthy breakfast. It is now thought that the studies which led to this advice were flawed. They were based on children who were accustomed to having breakfast. Their poor performance is now put down to the study being too short-lived for their brains to get used to the new regime. After all, it’s quite difficult to give up eating regularly, isn’t it? How do you think you’d fare?
It’s early days. Fasting may have risks. It’s not known who should fast, how often nor for how long each time. One study revealed that the hearts of fasting mice were less able to pump blood round their bodies. That doesn’t sound so good, does it! It’s not going to work, having a great brain but a dodgy ticker!
What do you think? Would you be prepared to fast if it made you brainier now, and went on to protect your brain in the future?