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Cutting Calories May Boost Aging Brains
Date:1/26/2009

Memory, thinking improved for those who ate less, study found

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Eating less to remember more might become a new prescription for some elderly people, German researchers say.

They found that memory and thinking skills improved among healthy, overweight subjects who cut their calorie intake by 30 percent over a three-month period.

If further research supports this conclusion, "from a public health point of view, you could actually do something for the prevention of cognitive decline from aging," said lead researcher Dr. Agnes Floel, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Munster.

The study suggests that the calorie restriction may boost memory and cognition by reducing insulin resistance and inflammation, which may be linked to age-related cognitive decline. Improvements in memory could be especially important, the study added, because memory losses are an early indication of Alzheimer's disease and its precursor, mild cognitive impairment.

The research also tested whether a dietary increase in unsaturated fatty acids, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish, would yield similar benefits. Although these healthy fats have spurred better cognitive performance in rats, the new study failed to find a similar effect in humans.

The findings were expected to be published in the Jan. 27 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The 49 men and women in the study had a mean age of 60.5 years and a body mass index of 28. Body mass index is a measure of overweight and obesity, with overweight starting at a BMI of 25 and obesity at 30.

Those in the calorie-restriction group were not told what to eat but were advised to cut portions and not to eat less than 1,200 calories daily.

The calorie restrictors lost an average of five pounds, with those who most closely adhered to the dietary re
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