The Complete Guide to Fasting for Longevity – Part IV

 Fasting and Cognitive Function:

Boosting Brain Health

Fasting and Cognitive Function: Boosting Brain Health

In addition to its profound effects on metabolic health, fasting has also been associated with various benefits for cognitive function and brain health. Research suggests that fasting may improve brain function, enhance neuroplasticity, and even protect against neurodegenerative diseases. In this section, we will delve into the potential cognitive benefits of fasting and explore how it may contribute to overall brain health.

Enhancing Brain Function

Fasting has been shown to have positive effects on various aspects of brain function, including memory, attention, and cognitive performance. Studies have demonstrated that fasting can enhance synaptic plasticity, which refers to the ability of the brain to form and strengthen connections between neurons. This improved synaptic plasticity is thought to underlie the enhancement of learning and memory processes.

Furthermore, fasting has been linked to increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth, survival, and function of neurons. Higher levels of BDNF have been associated with improved cognitive function and a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Protecting Against Neurodegeneration

One of the most exciting potential benefits of fasting is its ability to protect against neurodegenerative diseases. Animal studies have shown that fasting can help reduce the accumulation of toxic proteins such as beta-amyloid and tau, which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease.

Fasting also activates cellular stress response pathways, including autophagy, which play a crucial role in clearing damaged proteins and cellular debris. By enhancing autophagy, fasting may help remove harmful substances from the brain and promote overall brain health.

Moreover, fasting has been found to reduce inflammation in the brain. Chronic inflammation is believed to contribute to the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases. By reducing inflammation, fasting may help protect against the damage caused by inflammation and preserve brain function.

Improving Mood and Mental Well-being

Beyond its impact on cognitive function, fasting has also been associated with improvements in mood and mental well-being. Some studies have shown that fasting can lead to a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety. The mechanisms underlying this effect are not yet fully understood but may involve the modulation of neurotransmitters and the regulation of neurochemical pathways in the brain.

Additionally, fasting has been found to increase the production of brain chemicals such as endorphins and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which are known to promote feelings of well-being and happiness. These neurochemical changes may contribute to the overall mood-enhancing effects of fasting.


Fasting holds great promise for enhancing cognitive function, protecting against neurodegenerative diseases, and promoting overall brain health. By improving synaptic plasticity, increasing the production of neuroprotective proteins like BDNF, reducing toxic protein accumulation, and reducing inflammation in the brain, fasting offers a multifaceted approach to supporting cognitive function.

However, it’s important to note that fasting should be approached with caution, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those taking certain medications. It is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating fasting into your routine, especially if you have any concerns or specific health considerations.


In the next part of this guide, we will explore the potential benefits of fasting for weight management and body composition. Stay tuned to learn how fasting can help with weight loss, body fat reduction, and muscle preservation.


  • Mattson, M. P., & Arumugam, T. V. (2018). Hallmarks of brain aging: adaptive and pathological modification by metabolic states. Cell metabolism, 27(6), 1176-1199.
  • Vasconcelos, A. R., Yshii, L. M., Viel, T. A., Buck, H. S., & Viola, G. G. (2015). Impact of intermittent fasting on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis homeostasis and the central nervous system inflammatory response. Neuroscience, 300, 128-140.
  • Longo, V. D., & Mattson, M. P. (2014). Fasting: molecular mechanisms and clinical applications. Cell metabolism, 19(2), 181-192.
  • Martin, B., Mattson, M. P., & Maudsley, S. (2006). Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: two potential diets for successful brain aging. Ageing research reviews, 5(3), 332-353.
  • Cheng, C. W., Villani, V., Buono, R., Wei, M., Kumar, S., Yilmaz, O. H., … & Baldi, P. (2018). Fasting-mimicking diet promotes Ngn3-driven β-cell regeneration to reverse diabetes. Cell, 173(4), 775-788.
  • Vasconcelos, A. R., Kincheski, G. C., Soares, A. T., Atella, G. C., Donato Jr, J., & Viola, G. G. (2014). Intermittent fasting attenuates lipopolysaccharide-induced neuroinflammation and memory impairment. Journal of neuroinflammation, 11(1), 1-12.
  • Fond, G., Macgregor, A., Leboyer, M., & Michalsen, A. (2013). Fasting in mood disorders: neurobiology and effectiveness. A review of the literature. Psychiatry research, 209(3), 253-258.
  • Wei, M., Brandhorst, S., Shelehchi, M., Mirzaei, H., Cheng, C. W., Budniak, J., … & Hwang, S. (2017). Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Science translational medicine, 9(377), eaai8700.
  • Fann, D. Y., Ng, G. Y., Poh, L., Arumugam, T. V., & Jo, D. G. (2017). The beneficial effects of dietary restriction on learning, ageing and neurodegenerative diseases. Reviews in the neurosciences, 28(8), 837-851.
  • Martin, B., & Mattson, M. P. (2016). Maudsley 500 lecture 2016: cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying diet-associated brain aging. Neuromolecular medicine, 18(3), 264-268.