The New Frontier – Brain Anti-Aging with Nutrition

Monday, July 21, 2008
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

The molecular wonder tools of modern day science are not leading to powerful new drug discoveries, rather they are uncovering the exact details of how nutrition manages your genes to improve your health.  A case in point is all of the evidence showing that nutrients are the most powerful brain boosters known to mankind – and contain no serious adverse side effects like virtually every “blockbuster” brain med on the market today.  Nutrients rule when it comes to brain health.

Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science, analyzed more than 160 studies on nutrition and your brain1.  He states, “Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain.  Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging.”

He finds omega-3 fatty acids like DHA particularly helpful, and notes they are able to promote healthy brain plasticity between synapses of brain cells so that you brain can communicate properly. 

Of particular interest is the ability of nutrition to modulate a signaling molecule known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).  BDNF levels are invariably lacking in conditions of brain decline and mood problems.  I have reported on recent studies explaining that BDNF levels are benefited by blueberries and pantethine.  Professor Gómez-Pinilla also points out that fish oil and curcumin assist BDNF levels.  Eating less food and aerobic exercise also benefit BDNF.  BDNF is needed to make new brain cells and to keep the ones you have in energetic working capacity.  Brain aging is associated with declining BDNF.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Brain Boosting Nutrition  Nature Reviews Neuroscience  Fernando Gómez-Pinilla

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