Twelve Months of Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Cognition and Alters Microbiome Composition Independent of Macronutrient Composition

Academic Article


  • Declining health, gut dysbiosis, and cognitive impairments are hallmarks of advanced age. While caloric restriction is known to robustly extend the healthspan and alter gut microbiome composition, it is difficult maintain. Time-restricted feeding or changes in dietary macronutrient composition could be feasible alternatives for enhancing late life cognitive and physical health that are easier to comply with for extended periods of time. To investigate this possibility, 8-month-old rats were placed on time-restricted feeding with a ketogenic or micronutrient- and calorically matched control diet for 13 months. A third group of rats was permitted to eat standard chow ad libitum during this time. At 22 months, all rats were tested on a biconditional association task and fecal samples were collected for microbiome composition analysis. Regardless of dietary composition, time-restricted-fed rats had better cognitive performance than ad libitum-fed rats. This observation could not be accounted for by differences in motivation, procedural or sensorimotor impairments. Additionally, there were significant differences in gut microbiome diversity and composition between all diet conditions. Allobaculum abundance was associated with cognitive task performance, indicating a link between gut health and cognitive outcomes in aged subjects. Overall, time restricted feeding had the largest influence on cognitive performance in aged rats.
  • Published In

  • Nutrients  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hernandez AR; Watson C; Federico QP; Fletcher R; Brotgandel A; Buford TW; Carter CS; Burke SN
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 19