Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

#FMD

Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process

Can adhering to a fasting-like diet contribute to the deceleration of aging? Researchers from the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles assert this based on their study investigating the advantages of a “fasting-mimicking diet” (FMD).

The diet, as per a university press release, not only showed a connection to diminishing biological age and aging of the immune system but also demonstrated reductions in insulin resistance and liver fat.

Published in Nature Communications on February 20, the findings stem from clinical trials involving 100 participants aged 18 to 70. In a randomized manner, half of the group adopted the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD), involving five days of adherence to the diet followed by 25 days of regular eating, repeated for three or four cycles.

Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

In a recent study, a fasting-mimicking diet was discovered to lower biological age and slow down the aging of the immune system. Additionally, the research indicated positive effects on reducing insulin resistance and liver fat.

Fasting-like diet


The control group was assigned either a standard diet or a Mediterranean-style diet. Individuals in the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) group exhibited notable reductions in abdominal and liver fat, along with a lowered risk of metabolic syndrome. This is significant as metabolic syndrome is associated with an elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Participants following the experimental diet displayed indicators of a rejuvenated immune system. In aggregate, those adhering to the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) experienced an average reduction of 2.5 years in biological age, as assessed through the functionality of their cells and tissues, according to the researchers.

Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

The fasting-mimicking diet employed in the USC study comprised energy bars, plant-based soups, chip snacks, energy drinks, and tea.


Senior author Valter Longo, Professor at USC Leonard Davis School, expressed surprise at the impact of the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD). He noted that three cycles, totaling only 15 days a month, where participants could have modified/low-calorie but regular meals without altering their normal diet for the remaining days, had such notable effects on biological age, body fat, and various disease risk factors.

Longo projected that if the cycles were sustained for three cycles a year over 20 years, the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) could potentially decrease biological age by 11 years and lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes by 10% to 30%. Nevertheless, he emphasized that these are simulations, and further studies are needed to validate the potential benefits of the FMD cycles.

Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’
Prior studies in mice have identified additional benefits of the FMD, including reduced risk of age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, Vongo pointed out. The diet has been previously to reduced chemo side effects, greater stem cell regeneration and reduced signs of dementia, the release stated.

Valter Longo pointed out that previous studies in mice have highlighted further advantages of the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD). These include a decreased risk of age-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The diet has also been linked to reduced side effects of chemotherapy, enhanced stem cell regeneration, and diminished signs of dementia, as mentioned in the release.

What is the fasting-mimicking diet?

The Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) is a dietary approach designed to replicate some of the benefits of traditional fasting while still allowing for the consumption of specific foods. Typically, the FMD involves a short-term, controlled period of reduced calorie intake. During this period, individuals may consume specific foods that provide essential nutrients while keeping overall caloric intake low.

The goal of the FMD is to induce physiological changes similar to those that occur during fasting, such as promoting cellular repair, autophagy (a process in which the body removes damaged cells), and metabolic improvements. The diet is often followed in cycles, with alternating periods of reduced calorie intake and normal eating.

It’s important to note that the FMD should be approached with caution, and individuals considering such dietary changes should consult with healthcare professionals or nutritionists to ensure it aligns with their health status and goals. The specific composition and duration of the FMD can vary based on the protocol followed in different studies or by individuals.

Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’
“[The diet] allows for physical, biological and epigenetic benefits without the need for prolonged water-only fasts,” an expert said. 

Other experts weigh in on the diet

While the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) has shown promising results in some studies, it’s essential to consider a variety of perspectives from experts in the field. Different experts may have varying opinions on the effectiveness and safety of such diets. It is recommended to review a range of studies and expert opinions to get a comprehensive understanding. Additionally, individual health conditions and goals should be taken into account, and consultation with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians is advisable before embarking on any significant dietary changes.

Indeed, while fasting is commonly associated with visible weight loss, this study emphasizes its broader advantages for metabolic health. Beyond its potential role in weight management, fasting, as indicated in the research, may contribute to improvements in metabolic markers, such as insulin resistance and liver fat reduction. This underscores the importance of considering fasting not only for its impact on body weight but also for its potential positive effects on overall metabolic well-being.

Potential risks and limitations

While the Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD) has shown promising results in various studies, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and limitations:

Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’
  1. Nutrient Deficiency: Depending on the specific foods included in the FMD, there is a risk of nutrient deficiency, especially if the diet is followed for an extended period. This could lead to nutritional imbalances and affect overall health.
  2. Individual Variability: Responses to fasting or calorie restriction can vary widely among individuals. What works for one person may not be suitable for another, depending on factors such as age, health status, and lifestyle.
  3. Adherence Challenges: Strict adherence to the FMD may be challenging for some individuals due to lifestyle, personal preferences, or other factors. Long-term sustainability is a crucial consideration for any diet.
  4. Lack of Long-Term Studies: While short-term benefits have been observed in studies, the long-term effects and potential risks of prolonged adherence to the FMD are not well-established. More research is needed to understand the safety and efficacy over extended periods.
  5. Health Conditions: Individuals with certain health conditions, such as diabetes or eating disorders, may need to be cautious when considering fasting or drastic dietary changes. Consulting with healthcare professionals is crucial in such cases.
  6. Limited Human Studies: While some human studies support the benefits of FMD, more extensive and rigorous research is needed to draw definitive conclusions. As of now, the evidence base is still developing.

It’s crucial for individuals considering the FMD or any fasting-related diet to consult with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians to ensure it aligns with their individual health needs and goals. Fasting approaches should be approached with caution and not as a one-size-fits-all solution.

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