Brain Health,

#066: Starvation And Its Benefits

February 26, 2015

As a follow-up to our much-anticipated Water Fast Week, Jesse is joined by Dr. Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and Biological Science, and Director of the USC Longevity Institute.  Dr. Longo shares with us his research on the beneficial effects of fasting on everything from our immune responses to our lifespans, and addresses some points of curiosity that arose over the course of our calorie-free week.

A few Smart Drug Smarts listeners  – and Water Fast Week participants – also weigh in on their experiences, and answer a question our friends and family have all been dying to know… Was it worth it?

We’ll also find out just how much of an effect exercise can have on cognition,  and we’ll get a chance to travel back in time to the land of dinosaurs on drugs.


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Show Notes
  • 00:00:32

    Why a "starvation" episode?

  • 00:01:37

    This Week in Neuroscience: Physical Exercise Habits Correlate with Gray Matter Volume of the Hippocampus

  • 00:03:47

    (Australian) iTunes Review thank-you!

  • 00:04:50

    A little background on how this episode came to be (Episode 56: Ketosis Vs Cancer? ), and an introduction to Dr. Valter Longo

  • 00:07:37

    Fasting as a way to reboot the immune system

  • 00:09:11

    Are there any downsides to performing an immune system "spring clean"?

  • 00:10:06

    What is the optimal fasting frequency and length for humans to keep their immune systems in tip-top shape?

  • 00:12:36

    What happens in our bodies during low-calorie dieting periods versus during water-only fasts, and the difference between types of caloric ingestion

  • 00:14:06

    Pros and cons of water-only fasts, fasts including supplementation, and fasts that still allow for a small amount of caloric ingestion

  • 00:16:51

    Intermittent fasting, time-restricted eating, and how Dr. Longo incorporates caloric restriction into his own life

  • 00:18:49

    Does the time of day people choose to eat matter?

  • 00:19:19

    Effects of fasting on Alzheimer's disease

  • 00:20:03

    Ketones: Our alternative fuel-source

  • 00:21:32

    What are some of the physiological upsides to being in ketosis?

  • 00:23:20

    Jesse's experience during Water Fast Week

  • 00:25:39

    Some accounts from the other Water Fast Week participants

  • 00:28:41

    A big thank-you for everyone who got involved, and what to do if you want to join in next year!

  • 00:29:02

    Jesse's Water Fast Week Stats

  • 00:29:29

    Ruthless Listener-Retention Gimmick: The Connection Between Grass, Dinosaurs, and LSD?

  • 00:31:14

    My Own Life – Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer


  1. Randy says:

    See table 4 of this study:

    More hydroxybutyrate produced in calorie restricted low calorie High carb/low fat diet than Unrestricted low carb/high fat diet.

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