Lifelong brain health is a lifelong challenge: From evolutionary principles to empirical evidence

Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Three such factors are the challenges of physical exercise, food deprivation/fasting, and social/intellectual engagement. Because it evolved, in part, for success in seeking and acquiring food, the brain functions best when the individual is hungry and physically active, as typified by the hungry lion stalking and chasing its prey. Indeed, studies of animal models and human subjects demonstrate robust beneficial effects of regular exercise and intermittent energy restriction/fasting on cognitive function and mood, particularly in the contexts of aging and associated neurodegenerative disorders. Unfortunately, the agricultural revolution and the invention of effort-sparing technologies have resulted in a dramatic reduction or elimination of vigorous exercise and fasting, leaving only intellectual challenges to bolster brain function. In addition to disengaging beneficial adaptive responses in the brain, sedentary overindulgent lifestyles promote obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, all of which may increase the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease. It is therefore important to embrace the reality of the requirements for exercise, intermittent fasting and critical thinking for optimal brain health throughout life, and to recognize the dire consequences for our aging population of failing to implement such brain-healthy lifestyles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Volume20
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Exercise
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Ketone bodies
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neurology

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