Full text of Mark Mattson on Why Fasting Bolsters Brain Power – a TED Talk
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Why fasting bolsters brain power Mark Mattson at TEDxJohnsHopkinsUniversity
Thanks, Brian. I’m at the National Institute on Aging. And as many of you know, as people are getting older and there have been advances in cancer research, cardiovascular disease research. Many people who would have died in their 50s and 60s from those diseases are living into the danger zone for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
It’s projected that by 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease will triple from what it is today – 5 million today would be 15 million by 2050.
In my lab, we use a number of different animal models that are relevant to age-related neurodegenerative disorders. We have mice that accumulate amyloid in their brain as they get older and they have learning and memory problems. We have mice that have damage to dopamine producing neurons that control body movements, that’s miles of Parkinson’s disease and we also have miles of stroke which is again another major problem and cause of death.
Well it’s been known for a long time that one way to extend the life span of laboratory animals is simply to reduce their energy intake. And in rats and mice one can increase their life span by 30% or 40%.
We started looking at the effects of energy restriction on the brain in the context of age-related neurodegenerative disorders and found that we could slow down the, for example, abnormal accumulation about amyloid or the degeneration of dopamine neurons in the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s mile by reducing energy intake.
Now there’s a number of ways you can reduce energy intake. You can simply eat less at each meal or you can do what we call intermittent fasting. So reduce the frequency of the meals.