Diet that mimics fasting appears to slow aging
Oh no, yet another diet? Well possibly, a brand new study shows some very promising outcome so keep reading…
Want to lose abdominal fat, get smarter and live longer? New research led by USC’s Valter Longo shows that periodically adopting a diet that mimics the effects of fasting may yield a wide range of health benefits.
In a new study, Longo and his colleagues show that cycles of a four-day low-calorie diet that mimics fasting (FMD) cut visceral belly fat and elevated the number of progenitor and stem cells in several organs of old mice — including the brain, where it boosted neural regeneration and improved learning and memory.
The mouse tests were part of a three-tiered study on periodic fasting’s effects — testing yeast, mice and humans — to be published by Cell Metabolism on June 18.
Fasting’s lifelong effects
Mice, which have relatively short life spans, provided details about fasting’s lifelong effects. Yeast, which are simpler organisms, allowed Longo to uncover the biological mechanisms that fasting triggers at a cellular level. And a pilot study in humans found evidence that the mouse and yeast studies were, indeed, applicable to humans.
Bimonthly cycles that lasted four days of an FMD which started at middle age extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities of older mice tracked in the study. The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction.
In a pilot human trial, three cycles of a similar diet given to 19 subjects once a month for five days decreased risk factors and biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer with no major adverse side effects, according to Longo.
“Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,” said Longo, Edna M. Jones Professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute. Longo has a joint appointment at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “I’ve personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer.”
The diet slashed the individual’s caloric intake down to 34 to 54 percent of normal, with a specific composition of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and micronutrients. It decreased amounts of the hormone IGF-I, which is required during development to grow, but it is a promoter of aging and has been linked to cancer susceptibility. It also increased the amount of the hormone IGFBP-, and reduced biomarkers/risk factors linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease, including glucose, trunk fat and C-reactive protein without negatively affecting muscle and bone mass…