Even though fasting is difficult to do since it requires a lot of discipline and containing yourself to eat that delicious cookie, it can give amazing results if done right.
The journal Cell Metabolism published the results of a study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Southern California. They completed the third step of their fasting experiment conducted on humans and this is what the lead researcher had to say:
“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.”
“I’ve personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer,” stated Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute, in a press release.
Nineteen subjects were tested in the trial that was designed to replicate Longo’s yeast and mouse trials. The calorie intake of the participants was limited by 34 to 54 percent once a month for five days, enough to mimic the results of fasting. For the other 25 days of the month, participants returned to their normal eating habits.
After 3 months, the biomarkers showed decreased risk of aging, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. They’re calling it the “fasting mimic diet (FMD),” and it was shown to cut belly fat, improve learning and memory skills, and increase the number of stem cells ultimately leading to a longer lifespan.
Namely, with certain amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and micronutrients, the body lowers the amount of hormone IGF-I it produces. The hormone is responsible for aging but it has also been linked to cancer susceptibility, which means less of it is better. This theory was proven previously when Longo demonstrated how to starve cancer cells while protecting other cells from harm. For more information, watch the video:
“It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration,” Longo said. “Not everyone is healthy enough to fast for five days, and the health consequences can be severe for a few who do it improperly.”
If the fasting is not done right, it can seriously harm the body. For example, women who practice water-only diets may develop gallstones if they aren’t properly supervised, Longo explained. And, fasting isn’t for everyone. For example, people with a body mass index below 18 — considered a normal weight — should not engage in fasting of any sort. Diabetics also shouldn’t practice it since they depend on insulin, because the body uses up glucose energy supplies before it begins to burn fat. The process of burning fat to convert into fuel, also known as “ketosis,” makes the blood become more acidic, leading to bad breath, fatigue, and eventual kidney and liver damage.
For people who can practice this type of diet (consult a doctor before doing so), it allows the person to return to normal caloric intake for a majority of the month. Still, some fitness experts like Jillian Michaels warn that fasting can turn into an unhealthy “yo-yo” effect, and cause a person to cyclically fast and binge. To avoid this yo-yo effect, you shouldn’t cut calories altogether but instead limit calories for one week a month, and gradually return to your normal caloric intake for the other three weeks.
The details on how to implement the diet safely in order to prevent and treat obesity will be further discussed at a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration officers. Until that is settled, patients shouldn’t practice the diet.
“It’s not a typical diet because it isn’t something you need to stay on,” Longo said. “If the results remain as positive as the current ones, I believe this FMD will represent the first safe and effective intervention to promote positive changes associated with longevity and health span, which can be recommended by a physician.”