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Could a low-calorie diet fight dementia?

Could a low-calorie diet fight dementia?
18th November 2014

Consuming foods that are low in calories could be an effective way to fight dementia.

This is according to a study from New York University that suggests both men and women should reduce the number of calories in their diet each day.

It's believed such eating plans can lower how much change goes on in the activity levels of genes that are linked to memory and ageing. 

Lead researcher Dr Stephen Ginsberg and his team gave female mice food pellets that contained 30 per cent fewer calories than the control group. 

The latter set of creatures experienced 2,600 gene changes by the time they reached 15 months in the hippocampal tissue - the area of the brain that's affected first when Alzheimer's disease sets in. In comparison, the former group - on the reduced calorie diet - had 900 fewer. 

Such findings, which were presented at the Society for Neuroscience's yearly meeting at Washington DC, suggest that diets with fewer calories that come from carbohydrates could have a beneficial effect on the brain's health.

This 30 per cent calorie reduction would equate to around 18 per cent in humans, according to the researchers. In light of this, men are advised to consume around 2,000 calories a day (as opposed to 2,500) and women 1,600 (instead of 2,000).

Dr Ginsberg told the Daily Express: "Mother Nature has a programme for ageing and calorie restriction really stopped it for a lot of the genes. We are not going to cheat ageing - this is not the 'fountain of youth'.

"But I think we can make ageing easier on individuals and the quality of life they have. I think that we will see healthful and extended lifespan."

Dr Eric Karran from Alzheimer's Research called for more studies and emphasised that lifestyle factors were key to maintaining a healthy brain in old age, such as not smoking, eating a balanced diet and only consuming alcohol in moderation.  

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