The impact of diet and exercise on brain plasticity and disease

Nutr Health. 2006;18(3):277-84. doi: 10.1177/026010600601800310.


Lifestyle involves our preference to engage in behaviors that can remarkably influence the fitness level of our body and brain. Dietary factors are a powerful means to influence brain function on a daily basis. We have shown that the consumption of a diet rich in saturated fat decreases learning and memory and increases metabolic distress. Conversely, diets supplemented either with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E or the curry spice curcumin benefit cognitive function. Equally impressive is the action of exercise on cognitive function as documented by studies showing that exercise enhances learning and memory. The beneficial action of exercise on the brain can be used therapeutically to overcome the effects of consuming a poor diet. We suggest that the managed use of diet and exercise can help the brain to cope with several types of insults and ultimately benefit brain function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Curcumin / administration & dosage
  • Diet*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Curcumin