Adult neurogenesis, a complex process by which stem cells in the hippocampal brain region differentiate and proliferate into new neurons and other resident brain cells, is known to be affected by many intrinsic and extrinsic factors, including diet. Neurogenesis plays a critical role in neural plasticity, brain homeostasis, and maintenance in the central nervous system and is a crucial factor in preserving the cognitive function and repair of damaged brain cells affected by aging and brain disorders. Intrinsic factors such as aging, neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, and brain injury, as well as lifestyle factors such as high-fat and high-sugar diets and alcohol and opioid addiction, negatively affect adult neurogenesis. Conversely, many dietary components such as curcumin, resveratrol, blueberry polyphenols, sulforaphane, salvionic acid, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and diets enriched with polyphenols and PUFAs, as well as caloric restriction, physical exercise, and learning, have been shown to induce neurogenesis in adult brains. Although many of the underlying mechanisms by which nutrients and dietary factors affect adult neurogenesis have yet to be determined, nutritional approaches provide promising prospects to stimulate adult neurogenesis and combat neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline. In this review, we summarize the evidence supporting the role of nutritional factors in modifying adult neurogenesis and their potential to preserve cognitive function during aging.
Keywords: aging brain; cognition; hippocampal neurogenesis; neurodegeneration; polyphenols; stem cells.
© 2017 American Society for Nutrition.