Witte AV; Fobker M; Gellner R; Knecht S; Flöel A

Gerry Gajadharsingh writes:

“Whilst the research below looks at calorie restriction, I suspect that there are other mechanisms that are now better understood that may also be helping to help with cognitive decline. The group that were given the calorie restriction showed a 20% increase in verbal memory scores was correlated with reduction in insulin (a hormone that moves glucose out of the blood and into cells) and HSCRP (an inflammatory marker).

Eating 3 meals a day (high quality protein, adequate dietary fat and low glycaemic load carbs) and not snacking is one of the best ways of lowering the insulin response and managing overt or silent inflammation.

Interestingly the group that were given an increase in unsaturated fatty acids (UFA’s) showed no significant improvement in verbal memory scores.

This is one of the dietary interventions we are now using in our novel protocol at The Health Equation, Managing Cognitive Decline. Feel free to email  for further information.”

Animal studies suggest that diets low in calories and rich in unsaturated fatty acids (UFA) are beneficial for cognitive function in age. Here, we tested in a prospective interventional design whether the same effects can be induced in humans. Fifty healthy, normal- to overweight elderly subjects (29 females, mean age 60.5 years, mean body mass index 28 kg/m(2)) were stratified into 3 groups: (i) caloric restriction (30% reduction), (ii) relative increased intake of UFAs (20% increase, unchanged total fat), and (iii) control. Before and after 3 months of intervention, memory performance was assessed under standardized conditions. We found a significant increase in verbal memory scores after caloric restriction (mean increase 20%; P < 0.001), which was correlated with decreases in fasting plasma levels of insulin and high sensitive C-reactive protein, most pronounced in subjects with best adherence to the diet (all r values < -0.8; all P values <0.05). Levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor remained unchanged. No significant memory changes were observed in the other 2 groups. This interventional trial demonstrates beneficial effects of caloric restriction on memory performance in healthy elderly subjects. Mechanisms underlying this improvement might include higher synaptic plasticity and stimulation of neurofacilitatory pathways in the brain because of improved insulin sensitivity and reduced inflammatory activity. Our study may help to generate novel prevention strategies to maintain cognitive functions into old age.