A study in the Science Translational Medicine journal shows that a periodic, five-day fasting diet can reduce one’s risk of developing several major diseases. Apparently, those who followed this diet experienced a reduction in blood pressure, inflammation, glucose, fat, and weight.
The study involved one hundred healthy adults, aged between 20 and 70. They were divided into two groups. The researchers made one group as the control group. This group ate the normal food they usually take for three months. Meanwhile, the other group was tasked to undergo a fasting-mimicking diet for three months.
The special diet of the second group was made to replicate the results of water-only fast. They ate between 750 and 1,100 calories daily, including, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They also had fasting periods of five days a month.
Consequently, the second group lost a total of 6 pounds or nearly three kilograms. They also experienced a reduction of their waistlines by a total of one to two inches. Their blood pressure decreased by 4.5 mmHg and of IGF-1 dropped to between 21.7 ng/mL and 46.2 ng/mL. IGF-1is a hormone that affects metabolism. The researchers wanted to see if the same benefits can be seen in the control group so they moved this group onto a special diet.
“After the first group completed their three months on the fasting diet, we moved over participants in the control group to see if they also would experience similar results,” says Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute and a professor of biological sciences at USC Davis and Dornsife.
“We saw similar outcomes, which provides further evidence that a fasting-mimicking diet has effects on many metabolic and disease markers. Our mouse studies using a similar fasting-mimicking diet indicate that these beneficial effects are caused by multi-system regeneration and rejuvenation in the body at the cellular and organ levels.”
Moreover, the study participants retained those effects even when they went back to their normal diet. The researchers say a bigger study is needed and to determine if the results can be sustained for a longer time.
“This study provides evidence that people can experience significant health benefits through a periodic, fasting-mimicking diet that is designed to act on the aging process,” adds Longo. “Prior studies have indicated a range of health benefits in mice, but this is the first randomized clinical trial with enough participants to demonstrate that the diet is feasible, effective and safe for humans.”