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German researchers have found that cutting the calorie intake by one third may improve our memory.

The researchers put 50 elderly volunteers on a diet and gave them a memory test three months later. The results showed significant improvements in comparison to the tests given before dieting.
However, the researchers have warned that dieting needs to be done with care, otherwise the reduction could harm health.

After research on animals suggested that dieting may improve lifespan and delay the onset of age-related diseases, there is a growing interest in the potential benefits of calorie restricted diets.

The caloric restriction done on animals was very severe and it can not be said with certainty that the same effects would be visible in humans.
The precise mechanism is still being investigated. Theories range from a reduction in the production of "free radical" chemicals to a fall in inflammation that cause damage.

The study volunteers were on average 60 years of age. They were split into three groups - the first had a balanced diet containing the normal number of calories, the second had a similar diet but with a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in olive oil and fish. The final group were given the calorie restricted diet.

Three months after dieting, no difference in memory scores was seen in the first two groups, but the 50 in the third group performed better. They also showed other signs of physical improvement, with decreased levels of insulin and fewer signs of inflammation.

These changes could be the reason of better memory scores as they keep brain cells in better health. The drop in insulin levels were one plausible reason why mental performance might improve as this hormone acts on parts of the brain related to memory and the higher levels found in people with poorly controlled type II diabetes had been directly linked to worse memory and cognitive function.

The new findings may help to develop new prevention and treatment strategies for maintaining cognitive health into old age.


I don't believe calorie restriction diet is appropriate for just anybody. A growing teenager or somebody who is physically active, for example, can potentially be harmed by such a diet. Can you imagine a body-builder subsisting on 1500 calories a day? No way. On the other hand, I can see that calorie restriction can be beneficial for obese patients with diabetes. Extreme dieting can lead to anorexia, poor health, and death. Free radicals can best be controlled with antioxident supplements such as coenzyme Q10 and resveratrol, rather than diet.