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Young at Brain

A healthy diet and regular exercise may keep your brain young if you have certain gene variants, New Scientist reports.

Researchers from King's College London examined more than a dozen candidate genes thought to be associated with aging-related processes in neural stem cells. As the researchers report in Communications Biology this week, they found that the expression of about half of the candidate genes — which included FOXO3A, PTEN, and mTOR, among others — affected cellular processes like cell death and proliferation in neural stem cells exposed to aging human serum.

They also examined variants in those genes in pairs of adult twins who completed a cognitive task. Variants in two of the genes — SIRT1 and GRB10 — influenced the twins' performance on the task, they found. They noted, though, that the effect of those genes were moderated by diet and exercise.

"If you know which variation you have in these genes, [you'll be able to tell if] it's more likely that exercise or adhering to a Mediterranean diet will have a greater impact on your cognitive aging," Sandrine Thuret from KCL tells New Scientist.

She adds, though that there could be additional genes that influence cognitive aging and that "just to be safe, everyone should exercise and eat healthily."