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Neuroprotective effects of intermittent fasting in the aging brain.

BACKGROUND: A major risk factor for neurodegenerative disorders is old age. Nutritional interventions that delay aging, such as calorie restriction (CR) and intermittent fasting (IF), as well as pharmaceuticals that affect the pathways linking nutrition and aging processes, have been developed in recent decades and have been shown to alleviate the effects of aging on the brain.

SUMMARY: CR is accomplished by alternating periods of ad libitum feeding and fasting. In animal models, IF has been shown to increase lifespan and slow the progression and severity of age-related pathologies such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. According to recent research, dietary changes can help older people with dementia retain brain function. However, the mechanisms underlying the neuroprotective effect of IF on the aging brain and related questions in this area of study (i.e., the potential of IF to treat neurodegenerative disorders) remain to be examined.

KEY MESSAGES: This review addresses the hypothesis that IF may have translational potential in protecting the aged brain while summarizing the research supporting the putative neuroprotective mechanisms of IF in animal models. Additionally, given the emerging understanding of the connection between aging and dementia, our investigations may offer a fresh perspective on the use of dietary interventions for enhancing brain function and preventing dementia in elderly individuals. Finally, the absence of guidelines regarding the application of IF in patients hampers its broad utilization in clinical practice, and further studies are needed to improve our knowledge of the long-term effects of IF on dementia before it can be widely prescribed. In conclusion, IF may be an ancillary intervention for preserving memory and cognition in elderly individuals.

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