A new study led by Valter Longo from the University of Southern California (USC) demonstrates that occasionally sticking to a diet that yields similar effects to those of fasting may generate beneficial effects to the health. The findings have been published by Cell Metabolism.
According to the new study, a 5-day diet that mimics fasting can slow down the process of ageing, increase longevity, enhance the immune system as well as reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
The diet dictates that calories are restricted to between one-third and a half of the normal intake; the meal consists of vegetable soups and chamomile tea. Following the Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) for five days only would do the trick.
“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,’ said Professor Valter Longo, USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute.
“I’ve personally tried both, and the fasting mimicking diet is a lot easier and also a lot safer.
“I think based on the markers for ageing and disease in humans it has the potential to add a number of years of life but more importantly to have a major impact on diabetes, cancer, heart disease and other age-related disease.”
When the diet was tested by humans, they had a decreased number of biomarkers associated with ageing, diabetes, cancer and heart disease – these effects were noted within 3 months of adherence. Furthermore, overall body fat was lowered.
What is even more interesting is that the participants spent the rest of the month – 25 days – eating what they usually have, good or bad. Their normal diet was not changed, and in spite of this, the positive changes were glaring.
Professor Longo affirms that the FMD can be done every three to six months for normal people. As for obese people, or those with high risk factors for diseases, the FMD could be recommended once every two weeks.
“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,” Longo said.