A study published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience has discovered the best diet to protect the brain from the effects of ageing. A low-fat, low-calorie diet could protect the brain from inflammation-related activation of microglia brought on by ageing.
Microglia are a type of immune cell which oversee various processes involved with the development and function of the brain and central nervous system. Previous research has found that microglia are connected to diseases of the central nervous system, aid the development of neurons and monitor the functional tissues of the brain.
As we age, microglia activity causes parts of the brain to become inflamed. Until now, however, it was unclear how diet affects this process. “Obesity and ageing are both prevalent and increasing in societies worldwide, but the consequences for the central nervous system are not well understood”, says senior study author and Professor of Molecular Neuroimmunology at the University Medical Center Groningen, Bart J. Eggen.
Eggen and his research team analysed the effects of low-fat, calorie-restricted diets on inflammation and microglia activity in the hypothalami of 6-month old mice. While one group was raised on a lifelong regime of 40% calorie restriction with no exercise, the other was raised on a lifelong regime of exercise using an exercise wheel. Only the former group were found to prevent inflammation driven by microglia and brought on by ageing. “A low-fat diet per se was not sufficient to prevent these changes,” says Eggen. But, combined with calorie restriction, the results were positive.