Fasting on a regular basis might have more health benefits than helping you lose some weight; researchers suggest based on a recent study that it also improves longevity and reduces risk of chronic diseases.
A team of researchers from the United States and Italy has tested a new type of diet which contained low levels of calories and proteins – similar to what fasting does to the body – and found that following it for at least 5 days a month, 3 months in a row, had done wonders.
At the end of the study, participants showed a significant decrease in risk of developing heart disease, cancer or type-2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting is a well-known concept in the dietary circles; it means the amount of energy that you consume gets significantly reduced on one or two days each week, in an attempt of helping the organism dig into those fat storages and lose weight.
Before now, advocates were basing their conclusions on this type of fasting diet on mice studies, claiming that it can have the same effects on people: living longer and keeping chronic diseases at bay.
But the study published in the journal Cell Metabolism has come to offer some good news for humans. Researchers monitored 34 people, 19 of whom tested the FMD Diet – Fasting Mimicking Diet – while the others kept on eating their regular diet.
However, even if it works, researchers didn’t present it as “magic formula” that can help anyone instantly lose weight and live longer. At the three-month follow-up, participants in the FMD group had become slimmer, their blood sugar levels lowered significantly, and risk factors for heart disease had also been reduced.
Fasting diets are appreciated in the medical community for their ability to keep feeding the organism with plenty of necessary calories, while avoiding the pro-aging triggers, as explained by one of the study’s authors, Professor Valter Longo.
Not all researchers are on board with FMD or diets that encourage followers to drastically change their diet every few days. Shocking the metabolism like that on a regular basis can only mess it up, as well as with sleep patterns.
In spite of the advantages of supporting cell regeneration and weight loss, FMD also has several disadvantages; calorie restriction is even stricter and there are plenty of cancer and ageing markers that remain unaffected.
Professor Longo urges anyone who is interested in taking up an intermittent fasting-type diet to visit their doctor beforehand, as it is not suitable for everyone. Even though the diet has proven successful in mice and small insect studies, the verdict is still pending for its benefits in humans.
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