The Guardian looks back at memory researchers who’ve found that lower the carbohydrates you eat keeps your memory in better shape:
“Neurobiological changes associated with ageing can be seen at a much younger age than would be expected, in the late 40s,” said Lilianne R Mujica-Parodi, a professor in the department of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University in New York.
“However, the study also suggests that this process may be prevented or reversed based on dietary changes that involve minimising the consumption of simple carbohydrates,” added Mujica-Parodi.
Using brain scans of nearly 1,000 individuals between the ages of 18 to 88, researchers found that the damage to neural pathways accelerated depending on where the brain was getting its energy from. Glucose, they found, decreased the stability of the brain’s networks while ketones – produced by the liver during periods of carbohydrate restrictive diets – made the networks more stable.
“What we found with these experiments involves both bad and good news,” said Mujica-Parodi, “The bad news is that we see the first signs of brain ageing much earlier than was previously thought.
“However, the good news is that we may be able to prevent or reverse these effects with diet … by exchanging glucose for ketones as fuel for neurons,” she added in the study, which is published in PNAS.
“We think that, as people get older, their brains start to lose the ability to metabolise glucose efficiently, causing neurons to slowly starve, and brain networks to destabilise,” said Mujica-Parodi. “So we tested whether giving the brain a more efficient fuel source, in the form of ketones, either by following a low-carb diet or drinking ketone supplements, could provide the brain with greater energy. Even in younger individuals, this added energy further stabilised brain networks.”