Is fasting Neuroprotective?

A number of therapeutic effects of energy restriction and fasting have been identified and these relate to a wide range of conditions, including mood disorders. The underlying mechanism for this appears to be a reduction in immune system activation and significant reduction in inflammatory processes. One way to explain this might relate to the reduction in oxidation of energy during energy restriction. The oxidation of energy results in the generation of cellular free radicals, and this requires control via antioxidant defences. As free radical numbers decline, free radical defences improve and the balance between oxidation and antioxidation favours the latter. One consequence of this is a significant reduction in cellular oxidative stress, which may reduce inflammatory pathways. As the brain is made up of mainly lipids it is very susceptible to oxidative stress. Energy restriction may therefore reduce the oxidative stress placed on brain tissue, and this may have positive effects on overall mood. 

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Maalouf, M. A., Rho, J. M. and Mattson, M. P. 2009. The neuroprotective properties of calorie restriction, the ketogenic diet, and ketone bodies. Brain Research Reviews. 59(2): 293

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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