La restrizione calorica mantiene giovane il cervello

L’alimentazione mantiene giovani. È una teoria, questa, abbastanza nota, soprattutto agli appassionati di dieta. Di solito si consiglia il consumo di cibi contenenti antiossidanti, come frutta e verdura, per contrastare l’azione dei radicali liberi. Considerando valida questa tesi, oggi aggiungiamo un altro tassello: anche evitare l’eccesso calorico aiuta a preservare il corpo dall’invecchiamento.

Non stiamo parlando solo di rughe e tonicità della pelle, quanto di giovinezza della mente e di conseguenza protezione da tutte quelle malattie che possono colpire il cervello. Un nuovo studio, realizzato dalla collaborazione tra l’Istituto di Patologia generale e quello di fisiologia umana dell’Università cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Roma, ha scoperto l’esistenza di una molecola che protegge i neuroni. È stata chiamata in gergo “molecola anti-aging cerebrale”, il nome scientifico però è CREB1.  Ma come funziona? Questa sostanza si attiva se mangiamo meno, ovvero se introduciamo un minor numero di calorie nel nostro corpo.

Per essere più precisi, il corretto funzionamento del cervello dipende da questa molecola anti-aging che è attivata dalla restrizione calorica. Con restrizione calorica s’intendono le diete ipocaloriche, ovvero consumare massimo il 70 percento del cibo che si assume normalmente nel corso della giornata. È come se il vostro regime alimentare comprendesse un 30 percento in meno del vostro fabbisogno calorico. Giovambattista Pani, dell’Istituto di Patologia generale diretto da Achille Cittadini, ha così commentato:

L’obiettivo ora è trovare il modo di attivare Creb1, per esempio attraverso nuovi farmaci, anche senza doverci sottoporre a una dieta ferrea. La restrizione calorica è stata per noi più che altro un espediente sperimentale per scoprire e accendere un circuito protettivo del cervello che coinvolge Creb1 e altri geni responsabili della longevità, le sirtuine (Sirt).

Purtroppo non è la prima volta che si collega il peso, soprattutto il sovrappeso, all’invecchiamento precoce e allo sviluppo di malattie come il Parkinson e la demenza senile. Ora gli esperti stanno cercando il famoso interruttore citato da Pani, quello che resta alle persone deve essere la consapevolezza che mangiare in modo equilibrato senza esagerare, significa assicurarsi una vecchiaia in salute.

Ma come funziona il Creb1?

Le sinapsi permettono la trasmissione delle informazioni nelle reti neurali, ma anche l’archiviazione delle stesse informazioni (la memoria). Se per caso le sinapsi sono alterate o funzionano male, si possono sviluppare malattie gravi come l’Alzheimer o le diverse forme di demenza. Il Creb1 è responsabile del buon funzionamento delle sinapsi, ne conviene che la restrizione calorica ne assicura l’attivazione, mentre una dieta ipercalorica danneggia la molecola e di conseguenza tutti i processi connessi.

Restrizione calorica

Non è la prima volta che la dieta ipocalorica è collegata alla salute. In passato i ricercatori si sono accorti, con numerosi studi, che le aspettative di vita si allungavano consumando meno calorie. È stato, infatti, isolato un gene, chiamato SIRT1, collegato alla stabilizzazione del Dna e di conseguenza alla durata della vita. Oggi si parlato di un 30 percento di calorie in meno, ma è già sufficiente prevendere un 20 percento. È importante alzarsi da tavola e non sentirsi “pieni”, ma neanche affamati. È come riempire una bottiglia d’acqua senza arrivare all’orlo, ma fermandosi a metà del collo.  Questa filosofia di vita è già tipica dei giapponesi, popolo estremamente longevo. Ma ciò dipende anche dal fatto che la loro alimentazione è ricca di verdure antiossidanti e di pesce, a differenza di quella occidentale.

Restrizione calorica e tumore

Secondo numerosi studi, tra cui quello organo dell’American Association for Cancer Research, questa dieta protegge anche dal cancro, soprattutto quello al seno.  In questo caso però non si parla di restrizione calorica come filosofia di vita, ma come regime alimentare inserito a intermittenza nella quotidianità. È come prevedere alcuni pasti ipocalorici, nel corso della settimana.  Dagli studi dagli esperti, su tre gruppi di volontari che una storia clinica specifica, è emerso che chi si alimenta a piacimento rischia il 71 percento di ammalarsi, chi segue una dieta ipocalorica solo il 35 percento e chi invece adotta una restrizione calorica intermittente solo il 9.

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