The researchers from the University of Munster carried out the human study after results in rats suggested that memory could be boosted by a diet containing 30% fewer calories than normal.Combined with the literature on reduced-calorie diets and lifespan, this new research immediately makes me think of viticulture; i.e., wine-makers know that the best grapes grow in somewhat hostile conditions. What does this say for the human condition? Did God build suffering into the fabric of health?
The study volunteers, who had an average age of 60, were split into three groups - the first had a balanced diet containing the normal number of calories, the second had a similar diet but with a higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, such as those found in olive oil and fish. The final group were given the calorie restricted diet.
After three months, there was no difference in memory scores in the first two groups, but the 50 in the third group performed better.
They also showed other signs of physical improvement, with decreased levels of insulin and fewer signs of inflammation...
...care was taken to make sure that the volunteers, despite eating a restricted diet in terms of calories, carried on eating the right amount of vitamins and other nutrients.
...the drop in insulin levels were one plausible reason why mental performance might improve. Link
Perhaps, but I find it strange that the experimental conditions offered participants the 'right amount of vitamins and other nutrients' and still called it low-calorie. Doesn't the body quickly adjust to new conditions and burn calories more efficiently? So long as the body is getting its nutrients, then doesn't a 'low-calorie diet' become just 'a diet'? Would participants waste away if they stuck to the regime, or could they continue it ad infinitum? Or, to put it more significantly, does it matter if they waste away if they live twice as long?
If the ascetic life is the right path, then the only trick left is psychological interpretation of temperance so that it is no longer perceived as a negative.