Research: Fasting may prevent disease while it lowers your weight

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Fasting may help improve your health by reducing disease.  

Fasting Scale

Fasting Scale

Fasting is more than just a recent fat.  It has been a part of many cultures for not only centuries but many millennia.  Calorie restriction has been shown to enhance healthy aging, but the inability of most subjects to adhere to longterm and extreme diets such as fasting.  Fasting is a part of many religions because of the perceived clearing of the mind and improved through processes.  I have written a prior article on whether fasting (Fasting: A Safe Option For Weigh Loss? ) is safe and it is clear that it is. It has been proven to help with weight loss, but does it work for lowing obesity-related illness and disease?   It makes sense that if you can lower the obesity rate, you should be able to lower the rates of certain illnesses, but what does the research show?  

A recent study from 2017 looked at this very topic[1].  In the study, subjects from the United States were used to test this hypothesis.  Researchers randomized 100 generally healthy subjects from the United States into two study arms and tested the effects of a fasting-mimicking diet.  This diet was low in calories, sugars, and protein but high in unsaturated fat.  The researchers tested markers and risk factors associated with aging and age-related diseases.  The test group was compared to another group containing subjects who followed 3 months of an unrestricted diet.   Three cycles of the 5-day diet resulted in a reduced body weight, trunk, and total body fat, lowered blood pressure, lower LDL, lower C-reactive protein and decreased insulin-like growth factor 1.  Most importantly, no serious adverse effects were reported.  The researchers concluded that three cycles of a 5-day fast are safe, feasible, and effective in reducing markers/risk factors for aging and age-related diseases.  The positive effect was generally larger in the subjects who were at greater risk of disease at the start of the study. 

The bottom line:  Fasting is safe and this mimick fasting diet appears to reduce disease burden.  Larger studies are needed.  Mice that fast periodically are healthier, metabolically speaking. 

References

[1]
M. Wei et al., “Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.,” Sci Transl Med, vol. 9, no. 377, Feb. 2017. [PubMed]
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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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