Can Fasting Help You Live Longer?


A recent study published in the journal Cell Metabolism suggests that fasting between meals encourages better health and lengthens lifespan. Which has us wondering, can fasting help US live longer, too?

Conducting the Study

A single pea on a plate with knife and fork. Fasting studies show it may help people live longer.

Researchers from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and from the National Institute of Health (NIH) collaborated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana for this study.

Two hundred ninety-two male mice, divided into two groups, were used in the study. The first group’s diet was low in purified sugars and fat. This group, however, had higher protein and fat than the second. The mice were further grouped based on three different feeding times.

Group one was not given a feeding schedule. Group two consumed 30 percent fewer calories per day as compared to the first group. Group three, on the other hand, was scheduled a single meal that had the same amount of calories as the first.

Regardless of diet or the number of calories they consumed, the mice all seemed to benefit from their fasting.

To measure their health and lifespan, researchers examined the bodies of the mice after death.

Those that were scheduled meals and had restricted calories had overall better health and longer lifespans. Their internal organs bore fewer indications of age-related damage.

Assessing the Results

Woman standing outdoors, looking up at the sky.

The director of the NIA, Dr. Richard Hodes, said in a statement: “This study showed that mice who ate one meal per day, and thus had the longest fasting period, seemed to have a longer lifespan and better outcomes for common age-related liver disease and metabolic disorders.”

Chief of the Translational Gerontology Branch of the NIA Intramural Research Program, Dr. Rafael de Cabo, said, “Perhaps this extended daily fasting period enables repair and maintenance mechanisms that would be absent in a continuous exposure to food.”

Still, even with the promising results, one has to keep in mind that this study was performed on mice, not humans.  The study still needs to be replicated on humans to see if fasting will give the same benefits.

Evidence that points toward the advantages of fasting have been piling up in recent years. When it comes to humans, however, concrete evidence to support the benefits of fasting still remains inadequate.

James Catterson, who was not a part of the study, from the Institute of Healthy Ageing, University College London, told Newsweek that we should “wait until more rigorous studies, with larger sample sizes that adjust for confounding lifestyle behaviors, have been performed” before we jump to any conclusions.

Source: Newsweek

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