Prevent, delay and improve The treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the main public health objectives worldwide. In developed countries such as Spain, where the long life expectancy brings with it an increase in these chronic diseases, it is especially important to guarantee more years of quality of life and autonomy for the patients.
Both diet and exercise can protect the brain, but studies are looking for more specific forms of prevention. And precisely a recent study published in The Journal of Physiology points to a way to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms even though the long neurodegenerative process has begun. they would suffice only six minutes of daily exercise.
According to this work, the key would be to carry out a short but high intensity session. In this case, the practice of cycling in this way would have been shown to increase the production of a specialized protein which is essential in brain formation, learning and memory. It also protects you from cognitive decline associated with age.
[Estos son los mejores ejercicios físicos para evitar el alzhéimer]
This protein is the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to form new connections and pathways) and the neuron survival.
Previous animal studies have already shown that increasing the availability of BDNF promotes the formation and storage of memories, improves learning and increases the cognitive performance. All of these functions are key to protecting the brain from deterioration.
As Travis Gibbons, a researcher at the University of Otago in New Zealand and lead author of the study, explains, “BDNF has shown promise in animal models, but pharmacological interventions have not been successful. take advantage of its brain protective potential safely in humans.”
For this reason, he explains, “they have explored new non-pharmacological approaches able to preserve the human brain’s ability to naturally increase BDNF production and experience healthy aging.”
Thus, Gibbons and his colleagues investigated the possible influence of both fasting and exercise on BDNF production. They compared the following factors, both individually and in combination, in a study with 12 participants (six men and six women) between the ages of 18 and 56.
– Fasting for 20 hours.
– Light exercise (low intensity cycling for 90 minutes).
– High intensity exercise (six minutes of HIIT type cycling).
– Fasting combined with exercise.
According to the results of the study, the brief but intense exercise was the most efficient way to increase the amount of BDNF compared to a fasting day with or without a prolonged bout of light exercise. BDNF increased by 4-5 times compared to fasting or prolonged light activity.
The cause of these differences is still unknown and more research is still needed to understand the underlying physiological mechanisms. One of the hypotheses being considered is brain substrate switching and glucose metabolismwhich is usually the main source of brain fuel.
Thus, when performing intense exercise, the Predominant form of energy is lactate and not glucose. In this case, the transition of the brain from glucose to lactate consumption would initiate metabolic pathways that lead to increased production of BDNF in the blood.
On the other hand, the increase in BDNF could also be due to to an increase in the number of platelets, which store large amounts of this factor. The number of platelets increased by up to 20% with exercise, but not as much with fasting.
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