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Can the right diet repair your brain?

There’s good news and bad news in the latest research on brain deterioration. The bad news is that signs of brain ageing appear much earlier than generally thought – in the late 40s. The good news is that the decline may be halted and even reversed with dietary choices.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York scanned the brains of almost 1000 people aged between 18 and 80. They found that age-related damage to neural pathways occurred at different rates, depending on how the brain cells obtained their energy.

Neurons reliant on glucose were increasingly unstable over time, while those who got their energy from ketones – produced by the liver when the diet is low in carbohydrates – maintained more stable networks.

Suspecting that neurons gradually lose the ability to metabolise glucose, the researchers tested whether providing energy in the form of more efficient ketones would improve brain networks. They found that improved network stability was evident even in younger brains. As is often the case in medicine, the situation is complex. For many people, a low carb diet often results in less fruit and vegetables being consumed, posing risks for heart health.

More research is needed to provide a definitive answer – in the meantime it is important to seek qualified advice about dietary changes. At PIM, we consider diet and nutrition to be vital to good health, and we devise personalised nutrition plans for patients with a variety of health conditions. Click here to learn more.


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