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Intermittent fasting could help repair nerve damage, new study shows

Scientists have found intermittent fasting leads to more production of IPA by gut bacteria, in turn increasing nerve cell repair.

Published Jun 28, 2022 5:03 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Jul 22 2022 4:01 AM CDT

A study on fasting and nerves titled "The gut metabolite indole-3 propionate promotes nerve regeneration and repair" has been published in the journal Nature.

Intermittent fasting could help repair nerve damage, new study shows 01 |

Researchers from the Imperial College London have observed an increased ability in mice to recover from nerve damage, owing to gut bacteria changes resulting from intermittent fasting. Gut bacteria produce more of a metabolite called 3-Indolepropionic acid (IPA) in response to fasting. This metabolite is required to regenerate axons, the nerve fiber part of a neuron (nerve cell).

The particular bacteria which produces IPA, Clostridium sporogenesis, is found in both human guts and that of mice, so the mechanism will hopefully apply in potential future human trials. In the study, half of the mice ate on alternating days, while the other half ate as they pleased. The mice had their sciatic nerves, which run from the spine down the leg, severed, and within 24 to 72 hours, the fasting group experienced ~50% greater regrowth in their axons.

"There is currently no treatment for people with nerve damage beyond surgical reconstruction, which is only effective in a small percentage of cases, prompting us to investigate whether changes in lifestyle could aid recovery," said study author Professor Simone Di Giovanni from Imperial's Department of Brain Sciences.

"I think the power of this is that opens up a whole new field where we have to wonder: is this the tip of an iceberg? Are there going to be other bacteria or bacteria metabolites that can promote repair?" pondered Professor Di Giovanni.

You can read more from the study here.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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