Scientists have long known that calorie-restricted diets—as in 30% fewer calories than normal—are a key to living longer and keeping your brain healthier. But now, for the first time, they think they know why: Apparently extreme calorie restriction triggers a brain protein, CREB1, that unlocks good genes and brain function, reports the AFP. "CREB1 is known to regulate important brain functions [such] as memory, learning, and anxiety control, and its activity is reduced or physiologically compromised by aging," wrote the researchers.
Researchers put mice on calorie-restricted diets, but then turned off the CREB1 in some of the rodents' brains. The result: Only the mice producing CREB1 showed the benefits of the light diet. "Our hope is to find a way to activate CREB1, for example through new drugs, so to keep the brain young without the need of a strict diet," said the lead scientist. (Read more calorie restriction stories.)