Going on a diet 'can keep the brain healthy'
Dieting could boost brain power because it activates a protein that helps the mind stay young and healthy.
Restricting the number of calories you eat activates genes linked to longevity and keeps the brain functioning properly for longer, according to research on mice.
Low-calorie diets have previously been shown by several animal studies to extend life, reduce the risk of dementia and disease and boost the memory, but experts were unsure exactly how this happened.
A team from the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome claims that eating fewer calories triggers a protein called CREB1, which turns on genes that are linked to a longer, healthier life.
The researchers said their discovery could lead to new drugs that could keep the brain in a healthy, youthful state without the need for a restrictive diet.
Mice that were permitted only 70pc of the calories they would normally eat typically lived a third longer than normal and demonstrated better memory and mental function.
Having too rich a diet is thought to bring forward brain-ageing.
Giovambattista Pani, who led the research, said: "This discovery has important implications to develop future therapies to keep our brain young." (© Daily Telegraph, London)