Many people have tried going on extremely low-calorie diets for years, hoping to stave off illness and delay the effects of aging. A new study has suggested that fasting may actually be good for an individual.
University of Southern California's Valter Longo said, "It's an approach that is based on science showing that limiting proteins and sugars seems to impede processes in the body that lead to diabetes and even cancers, but it's also a tough road that can sap dieters' patience and strength. We wanted to know, what if people eat normally, but then once every few weeks they fool the system into thinking it was starving? The results showed that the fasting-mimicking plan did indeed work."
When the research team alternated between offering yeast a nutrient medium and fasting them, they lived longer. Middle-age mice that were fed a diet that mimicked fasting were also found to live longer and have less fat, fewer cancers, less bone density loss and other positive effects. The study subjects who ate the fasting-like diet experienced drops in their fasting blood glucose levels and in factors associated with cancer and cardiovascular risk. In mice, the researchers noticed an increase in the number of stem cells, suggesting that starvation-like conditions killed off old, weaker cells and allowed younger, refreshed cells to emerge.
The study is published in the Cell Metabolism.