Restricting calorie intake may protect brain cells from damage and have a beneficial effect in epilepsy, a new report has revealed.

According to researchers at the Centre for Research on Redox Processes in Biomedicine in Brazil, reducing calorie intake by around 40 per cent can increase the amount of calcium that is retained in mitochondria – the part of a cell responsible for respiration and energy production.

This could help prevent neuronal death associated with epilepsy and other neurological conditions, the researchers said.

Lead author, Dr Ignacio Amigo, said: “More than promoting the advantages of eating frugally, we aim to understand the mechanisms that make not over consuming calories better for health. This can point to new targets for the development of drugs against various diseases.”

To discover this, the team tested on two groups of rodents. One was given as much water and food as they could physically eat, while the other was restricted on a calorie controlled diet. This was sustained for 14 weeks.

At the end of the study, the animals were injected with a substance called kainic acid to mimic the effects of epilepsy.

Conditions like epilepsy can cause an excessive release of calcium into neurons due to the over-activation of receptors.

The researchers found that the group of animals on a calorie controlled diet were better able to deal with the effects of the kainic acid, in comparison to the group which were unrestricted.

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