Feast and fast to live longer

University of Florida Health researchers have found that putting people on a feast-or-famine diet may mimic some of the benefits of fasting.

Fasting has been shown to extend the lifespan mice and to improve age-related diseases. However, fasting every day is hard to maintain.

“People don’t want to just under-eat for their whole lives,” said Martin Wegman, an M.D.-Ph.D. student at the UF College of Medicine and co-author of the paper recently published in the journal Rejuvenation Research. “We started thinking about the concept of intermittent fasting.”

How the diet worked in just 10 weeks

The research group measured 24 participants’ changes in weight, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, cholesterol, markers of inflammation and genes involved in protective cell responses over 10 weeks. The participants alternated one day of eating 25 percent of their daily caloric intake with one day of eating 175 percent of their daily caloric intake.

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“We found that intermittent fasting caused a slight increase in SIRT 3, a well-known gene that promotes longevity and is involved in protective cell responses,” said Michael Guo, a UF M.D.-Ph.D. student who is pursuing the Ph.D. portion of the program in genetics at Harvard Medical School.

The researchers found that the intermittent fasting decreased insulin levels in the participants, which means the diet could have an anti-diabetic effect as well.

What participants ate

On the study participants’ fasting days, they ate things like roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, Oreo cookies and orange sherbet – but they ate only one meal.

On the feasting days, the participants ate bagels with cream cheese, oatmeal sweetened with honey and raisins, turkey sandwiches, apple sauce, spaghetti with chicken, yogurt and soda – and lemon pound cake, Snickers bars and vanilla ice cream.

“Most of the participants found that fasting was easier than the feasting day, which was a little bit surprising to me,” Guo said. “On the feasting days, we had some trouble giving them enough calories.”

Source: University of Florida via Sciencedaily

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