Objective: Exercise and select diets have important influences on health and plasticity of the nervous system, and the molecular mechanisms involved with these actions are starting to be elucidated. New evidence indicates that exercise, in combination with dietary factors, exerts its effects by affecting molecular events related to the management of energy metabolism and synaptic plasticity. Methods: Published studies in animals and humans describing the effects of exercise and diets in brain plasticity and cognitive abilities are discussed. Results: New evidence indicates that exercise and select diets exert their effects by affecting molecular events related to the management of energy metabolism and synaptic plasticity. An important instigator in the molecular machinery stimulated by exercise is brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which acts at the interface of metabolism and plasticity. Conclusions: Recent studies show that selected dietary factors share similar mechanisms with exercise, and in some cases they can complement the action of exercise. Therefore, exercise and dietary management appear as a non-invasive and effective strategy to counteract neurological and cognitive disorders. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
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