Blogging with Parkinson's

A personal perspective on Young Onset Parkinson's

Occasional Fasting May Help Prevent Parkinson’s


I came across this story in The Guardian. Apparently, neurons work more effectively if they are starved every now and then – one or two days a week, with a minimal calorie intake of 500 is suggested – and are less likely to malfunction.

“Reducing your calorie intake could help your brain, but doing so by cutting your intake of food is not likely to be the best method of triggering this protection. It is likely to be better to go on intermittent bouts of fasting, in which you eat hardly anything at all, and then have periods when you eat as much as you want,” said Professor Mark Mattson, head of the [National Institute on Ageing in Baltimore]’s laboratory of neurosciences.

– as reported by The Guardian

Mattson was speaking to the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver on Saturday, February 18, 201. The abstract for his presentation can be found here.

The abstract states:

Dietary energy restriction (DER) extends lifespan and protects the brain and cardiovascular system against age-related diseases in animal models.  We have found that DER, particularly when administered in intermittent bouts of major caloric restriction (e.g., alternate day fasting), activates adaptive cellular stress response pathways in neurons resulting in increased production of neurotrophic factors, protein chaperones, antioxidant enzymes and proteins involved in mitochondrial biogenesis.   As a result, the function of synapses is enhanced, neurogenesis (the production of new neurons from stem cells) is increased, and neurons are more resistant to oxidative and metabolic stress.
Mark Mattson , National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD
The bit that I found most intriguing, though, was this sentence:
[…] DER has slowed the disease process and improved functional outcome in animal models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, stroke and myocardical infarction.

There: “slowed the disease process”. That’s important. That makes me think that it might be worth a try. And, while it might not be “easy”, it won’t be complicated, either. Nor should it harm me if I am otherwise well.

I’ve got a cold at the moment, though…


3 thoughts on “Occasional Fasting May Help Prevent Parkinson’s

  1. It seems that DER and neurology is a hot topic at the moment. Another study, reported on by, talks about the risk of “mild cognitive impairment” (specifically not a severe problem such as Alzheimer’s; Parkinson’s isn’t even mentioned) brought on by overeating in old age:

    “Stuffing the Belly Could Starve the Mind in Seniors”

    The correspondent who gave me this link also commented on the need for adjusting the calorific requirements according to gender (women – who will make up the majority of the over-70s – tend to be smaller than men and to require fewer calories by body weight).

  2. Hi, Have you tried this and found that this has helped?

    • No, oracuk, I must confess that I haven’t tried it. It’s something that I would like to try, but it … just never seems like a good time to do it. My life is, it seems, too chaotic to plan fasts for. I don’t really know how it works with the extra exercise I’m trying to do.

      And, of course, I doubt that it would be possible to tell if it had helped. No claims are made for any improvement in symptoms – just a suggestion that the progression of the disease might be slowed. I have no means of measuring that.

      All I can do is report – at such time that I manage to try the idea over a significant period of time – how the fasting feels. Which isn’t much. But it might help someone else decide whether to go for it.

      I have to say, though, that the school holidays are not a good time to instigate such an investigation. Talk about chaos…

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