What are the effects of Intermittent Fasting on your brain and cognitive functioning?

Written By Katherine O

The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function


  1. “Clinical studies show benefits of IF for epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis on disease symptoms and progress.”
  2. “Findings from animal studies show mechanisms by which Parkinson’s disease, ischemic stroke, autism spectrum disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders could benefit from IF. Future”
  3. This research is still early and there are a lot of unanswered questions. Including: Who benefits most from IF and who will not (obese, healthy-range, under-weight, etc.)? How big a role does circadian rhythm and meal timing play? Impact of food choices in the eating window? Etc.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month. We are going to be kicking June off with a special group fast in honor of this. This week’s resource is a review paper of the scientific research that has looked at the effects of fasting on the brain. It includes the following research:

  • Fasting 12–16 h Reger et al. [73] – Findings: Injected ketones leads to improved cognitive functioning while fasting in patients with AD or MCI
  • TRF 30 days Mindikoglu et al. [74] – Findings: Reduced amyloid precursor protein in healthy subjects
  • PF 3 years Ooi et al. [75] – Findings: Enhanced cognitive functioning in MCI patients
Parkinson’s disease
  • FMD 3 cycles Zhou et al. [76] – Findings: Greater retention of motor skills and less dopaminergic neuronal loss in the substantia nigra (MPTP PD model)
  • TRF 6–10 months Maswood et al. [77] – Findings: Reduced motor deficiencies and attenuated dopamine depletion (MPTP PD model)
Multiple sclerosis
  • FMD 3 cycles Choi et al. [70] – Findings: Reversed disease progression (EAE model)
  • ADF 4 weeks Cignarella et al. [64] – Findings: Increased gut microbiota richness and lowered levels of T-lymphocytes (EAE model)
  • FMD 7/30 days Choi et al. [70] – Findings: Lowered self-reports of multiple sclerosis disability
  • ADF 15 days Cignarella et al. [64] – Findings: Reduced inflammation and enhanced protective changes of the gut microbiota
Ischaemic stroke
  • ADF 3 months Arumugam et al. [78] – Findings: Reduced cortical neuronal loss and reduced cognitive decline (stroke induced using cerebral artery occlusion)
  • ADF 3 months Roberge et al. [79] – Findings: Recovery of spatial memory deficits (stroke induced using cerebral artery occlusion)
  • Fasting 24 h Davis et al. [72] – Findings: Reduced neuronal loss when fasting is initiated after moderate injury and maintained for 24 h
  • Ramadan IF 13 years Bener et al. [80] – Findings: No differences in the number of hospitalisations for stroke between Ramadan and non-fasting months assessed in an observational study
  • ADF 2–4 months Bruce-Keller et al. [81] – Findings: Less neuronal hippocampal damage and improved spatial navigation (using excitotoxin kainate epilepsy model)
  • PF 2 months Hartman et al. [82] – Findings: Improved seizure control in children
Autism spectrum disorder
  • ADF 60 days Cabral-Costa et al. [83] – Findings: Rescued fear conditioning in ASD mice (PTEN haploinsufficiency ASD model)
Mood- and anxiety disorders
  • Fasting 9 h Cui et al. [84] – Findings: Increased serotonin receptor dependent prefrontal BDNF and c-Fos levels and antidepressant effects (reduced immobility during forced swimming)
  • TRF 8 weeks Moro et al. [85] – Findings: Lowered inflammatory markers
  • Ramadan IF 30 days Farooq et al. [86] – Findings: Lowered subjective feelings of depression and mania
  • Ramadan IF 30 days Eddahby et al. [87] – Findings: Relapse in bipolar disorder
  • Ramadan IF 30 days Fawzi et al. [88] – Findings: Worsened schizophrenia symptoms

We talk about so many of the benefits of fasting, but having and maintaining a healthy and high-functioning brain has to be one of the most valuable. If there’s anyone in your life that you think might benefit from this information, please share it with them!

And, enjoy reading the article yourself below.

Check out the full article here!
Here are some other fasting resources you might be interested in:
  • Fasting For Survival Lecture by Dr. Pradip Jamnadas – In this hour and twenty minute video, Dr. Pradip Jammadas, an award-winning cardiologist, explains in a succinct and humorous way why fasting is so powerful. It is not a surprise to those of us who have seen it why this video has almost 4M views and 80,000 likes on YouTube.
  • The Complete Guide to Fasting – A great one! – 3 min review of the book The Complete Guide to Fasting – A helpful book summary for your fasting journey
  • Pure White & Deadly – How sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it – This classic was way ahead of its time and is more relevant today than it was written almost 50 years ago. The trends in chronic illness, obesity, and Type II diabetes sadly show how right Yudkin was about the detrimental effects of sugar.

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