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"One quarter of what we eat sustains our lives," Dr. Mark Mattson says of an ancient Egyptian inscription, "the rest sustains our doctors." Whether or not the quotation is apocryphal, there is mounting evidence enhances brain health.

What if medical science were hiding a method that could make Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease largely a thing of the past? That not only did not require buying expensive medications, but also reduced your normal, budgeted household expenses? You could never expect Big Pharma or Big Food to support such a plan that saves you money and costs them sales.

However, there is a method for enhancing brain health that almost certainly mitigates Alzheimer's and Parkinson's that doesn't involve drugs and that even saves you money. It's intermittent fasting.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Most serious athletes know about intermittent fasting, taking a break from food for one or maybe two days a week. Once or twice a week, followers of intermittent fasting don't eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and they don't eat snacks, either. That's to give their muscles a chance to grow.

How can intermittent fasting help muscles grow? It turns out that when you aren't consuming protein, specifically when you aren't consuming branched-chain amino acids such as leucine (which is abundant in dairy protein), your brain releases growth hormone to make sure that your muscles don't lose protein. That's right. When you avoid eating for at least 17 hours, up to about 24 hours, your muscles not only don't shrink, they grow.

That doesn't mean that fasting for 24 hours is good so fasting for 48 hours is better. There is a point, after about two days, that failure to consume protein foods can result in the body's breaking down muscle tissue so it can harvest amino acids to make enzymes and hormones. Short-term fasting builds you up. Long-term fasting breaks you down. But it isn't just muscles that respond to fasting.

Your Brain Benefits from a Break from Food, Too

One of the more recent discoveries about fasting is that it's also good for your brain. The brain is the most energy-intensive organ in the human body. Even though your brain comprises just about 2 percent of your body mass, it uses 20 percent of your body's energy supplies.

Most of the time the brain operates on glucose. You have probably noticed that when you are hungry (if you go without eating often enough that you actually get hungry, not everybody does), your thinking gets fuzzy and your emotions tend to swing high and low. That's because your brain isn't getting enough glucose.

However, if you don't reach for a candy bar or a snack, your body finds another way to feed your brain its fuel. The liver stores glucose in the form of glycogen. Chemically, glycogen is a molecule of glucose combined with four molecules of water. When you don't eat carbohydrate foods and you don't eat excess protein foods (your liver can turn the amino acids in protein into glucose), it starts sending your brain ketone bodies to use as fuel.

The liver makes ketones from fat. One of the byproducts of the process of making ketones is acetone, which is the same chemical used in nail polish remover. The presence of acetone is the reason your breath is bad when you are dieting. The principle product of this process is beta-hydroxybutyrate, also known as BHB, which is also an excellent energy source for the brain.

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