Scientists from the University of Southern California have discovered that following a low-calorie, “fasting-mimicking” diet can reduce the risks of major health problems, such as aging, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Although previous research has shown that a low-calorie diet promotes healthy aging, it can be challenging for most people to adhere to such a restrictive diet for a prolonged period.
Additionally, a low-calorie diet can cause health problems like constipation, fatigue, diarrhea, and nausea.
In this study, researchers aimed to evaluate the health benefits of a fasting-mimicking diet that is low in calories, sugars, and proteins but high in unsaturated fats.
The fasting-mimicking diet is designed to simulate the fasting state while still providing essential nutrients and calories.
This diet works by identifying a “sweet spot” in the body where the benefits of fasting can still occur without activating pathways that block the benefits.
The diet mimics the 5:2 fasting diet, where dieters consume about 25% of their regular caloric intake for two days and then eat normally for the next five days.
This means the dieter eats approximately 500-600 calories on fasting days.
The researchers compared the effects of three months of an unrestricted diet to three months of a fast-mimicking diet that was followed for five consecutive days per month.
They found that the fast-mimicking diet reduced body weight and total body fat while also lowering blood pressure and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). No serious adverse effects were reported.
After three months, the team found improvements in body mass index, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, ‘bad’) cholesterol, and C-reactive protein in the diet group.
C-reactive protein is a protein that the liver produces and secretes into the blood. It is often the first evidence of inflammation or infection in the body.
Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that the cycles of a five-day fast-mimicking diet are safe, feasible, and effective in reducing risks for aging and age-related diseases.
However, they also suggest that more extensive studies are necessary to determine the benefits of the diet for people with diagnosed diseases.
Additionally, they need to identify how the diet can benefit people with specific risk factors, such as obesity or high blood pressure.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies that whole grain foods could help increase longevity, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about natural coconut sugar that could help reduce blood pressure and artery stiffness, and anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease.
The research is published in Science Translational Medicine and was conducted by Valter D Longo et al.
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