Sunday, February 1, 2009

Eat Less, Remember More

Calorie restriction has been associated with health benefits, such as increased longevity. It is no secret that most of us eat too much. A new study published January 26, 2009 in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that calorie restriction may improve our memory.

50 men and women age 50-72, normal weight and overweight, were studied on three nutrition schedules: a 30% reduction in calories, same calories but an increase in "healthy fat", and no change in diet. The group that reduced their calories were able to do better on tests that involved memorizing words. The other two groups showed no change.

How could this happen? Eating less calories causes us to be more sensitive to the blood sugar regulating hormone insulin and have a drop in the inflammation-associated molecule C-reactive protein. Past evidence has linked these factors to an improvement in brain function. Experts suggest that increased inflammation and a drop in insulin sensitivity (which is known as insulin resistance) may help explain why obesity and type 2 diabetes have been linked to worse mental performance and a greater risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Lean and healthy go together. Staying lean is a big challenge today with the abundance of inexpensive and "fast" food. Being lean requires a special commitment to healthy eating every day and regular physical activity. Clear mental performance can now be added to the potential benefits of living this healthy lifestyle.

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