Intermittent Fasting And The Brain
People find intermittent fasting to be an effective tool to lose weight, be more productive, elevate their mood and save time. Intermittent fasting also directly changes the brain.
Fasting has been shown to lead to more brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF in the brain. BDNF is like fertiliser for new neurons. BDNF actually increases when we consume anti-depressants and exercise.
Hormesis is a biological process where a beneficial effect comes out of exposure to something which is stressful on the body. One example is a vaccine. Another is exercise.
We lift weights and our muscles become stronger. They adapt. Exercise causes an adaptive advantage to occur.
Fasting is another hormetic stress. Fasting stimulates the growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus.
The ketones produced by being in a state of ketosis (liver glycogen depletion) are also an energy source much of the brain can function from. Ketones are arguably more efficient for the brain.
The presence of ketone bodies may also increase the number of mitochondria in neurons.
Mitochondria are power plant cells in the body and allow the body to create energy through ATP.
Neurons in the brain adapt to the “stress” of fasting via the production of more mitochondria.
This increase allows neurons to foster stronger connections. This can potentially increase learning and memory.
Forget about the science for a second and think about fasting through an evolutionary perspective.
If you run out of food, your mind must work better to figure out a way to secure your survival through satiating yourself either by hunting or gathering. This takes cognitive performance.
Feeling fatigued isn’t something that is going to occur as quickly as many of us believe. The body is much more powerful than we give it credit for.