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Low-carb diet may reverse age-related brain deterioration, study finds

Researchers say brain pathways begin to erode in the late 40s, but can be repaired through dietary changes

A low carbohydrate diet may prevent and even reverse age-related damage to the brain, research has found.

By examining brain scans, researchers found that brain pathways begin to deteriorate in our late 40s – earlier than was believed.

“Neurobiological changes associated with aging 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 minimizing the consumption of simple carbohydrates,” added Mujica-Parodi.

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To better understand how diet influences brain aging, researchers concentrated on young people whose brains showed no signs of aging. This is the period during which prevention may be most effective.

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 aging much earlier than was previously thought.

 

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