Mark Mattson is the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University. Mattson is one of the foremost researchers in the area of cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Mark is one of the foremost proponents when it comes to the benefits of fasting. When many people hear the term “fasting,” they immediately think of this extreme, unhealthy approach to diet and health. Make no mistake about it, extreme caloric restriction certainly can be an inappropriate solution to health, but Mark’s methods aren’t dangerous, rather they are logical and based in strong supportive science.
Here are some notes from his work.
“Dietary changes have long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit. (Some children with epilepsy have also benefited from a specific high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.) Normal brains, when overfed, can experience another kind of uncontrolled excitation, impairing the brain’s function, Mattson and another researcher reported in January in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience”
“Intermittent fasting enhances the ability of nerve cells to repair DNA.”
“Challenges to your brain, whether it’s intermittent fasting [or] vigorous exercise . . . is cognitive challenges. When this happens neuro-circuits are activated, levels of neurotrophic factors increase, that promotes the growth of neurons [and] the formation and strengthening of synapses. . . .” (source)
Here is Mark’s incredible TedX. Listen as he expands on these ideas and concepts.