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      Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function

      Nature Reviews Neuroscience

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          It has long been suspected that the relative abundance of specific nutrients can affect cognitive processes and emotions. Newly described influences of dietary factors on neuronal function and synaptic plasticity have revealed some of the vital mechanisms that are responsible for the action of diet on brain health and mental function. Several gut hormones that can enter the brain, or that are produced in the brain itself, influence cognitive ability. In addition, well-established regulators of synaptic plasticity, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor, can function as metabolic modulators, responding to peripheral signals such as food intake. Understanding the molecular basis of the effects of food on cognition will help us to determine how best to manipulate diet in order to increase the resistance of neurons to insults and promote mental fitness.

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          Most cited references 156

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          Running increases cell proliferation and neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus.

          Exposure to an enriched environment increases neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of adult rodents. Environmental enrichment, however, typically consists of many components, such as expanded learning opportunities, increased social interaction, more physical activity and larger housing. We attempted to separate components by assigning adult mice to various conditions: water-maze learning (learner), swim-time-yoked control (swimmer), voluntary wheel running (runner), and enriched (enriched) and standard housing (control) groups. Neither maze training nor yoked swimming had any effect on bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)-positive cell number. However, running doubled the number of surviving newborn cells, in amounts similar to enrichment conditions. Our findings demonstrate that voluntary exercise is sufficient for enhanced neurogenesis in the adult mouse dentate gyrus.
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            Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition.

            An emerging body of multidisciplinary literature has documented the beneficial influence of physical activity engendered through aerobic exercise on selective aspects of brain function. Human and non-human animal studies have shown that aerobic exercise can improve a number of aspects of cognition and performance. Lack of physical activity, particularly among children in the developed world, is one of the major causes of obesity. Exercise might not only help to improve their physical health, but might also improve their academic performance. This article examines the positive effects of aerobic physical activity on cognition and brain function, at the molecular, cellular, systems and behavioural levels. A growing number of studies support the idea that physical exercise is a lifestyle factor that might lead to increased physical and mental health throughout life.
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              Ghrelin induces adiposity in rodents.

              The discovery of the peptide hormone ghrelin, an endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagogue (GHS) receptor, yielded the surprising result that the principal site of ghrelin synthesis is the stomach and not the hypothalamus. Although ghrelin is likely to regulate pituitary growth hormone (GH) secretion along with GH-releasing hormone and somatostatin, GHS receptors have also been identified on hypothalamic neurons and in the brainstem. Apart from potential paracrine effects, ghrelin may thus offer an endocrine link between stomach, hypothalamus and pituitary, suggesting an involvement in regulation of energy balance. Here we show that peripheral daily administration of ghrelin caused weight gain by reducing fat utilization in mice and rats. Intracerebroventricular administration of ghrelin generated a dose-dependent increase in food intake and body weight. Rat serum ghrelin concentrations were increased by fasting and were reduced by re-feeding or oral glucose administration, but not by water ingestion. We propose that ghrelin, in addition to its role in regulating GH secretion, signals the hypothalamus when an increase in metabolic efficiency is necessary.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Neuroscience
                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-003X
                1471-0048
                July 2008
                July 2008
                : 9
                : 7
                : 568-578
                Article
                10.1038/nrn2421
                2805706
                18568016
                © 2008

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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