Intermittent fasting could be good for health, but the preliminary clinical evidence is meager.
Research shows that eating less through intermittent fasting can lead to a longer life. Some studies suggest that monkeys eat less, live longer. But recently, a primate research with a term of 25 years completed, finds it invalidated. Whether we live longer or not, much of the research confirms that eating fewer calories through Intermittent fasting decreases risk of common diseases of aging, and increases the number of healthy years of life.
Researchers have examined a promising alternative in recent years; intermittent fasting, ranging from the occasional few days fasting to one or two meals on some days of the week.
Intermittent fasting would bring some of the health benefits that also promise calorie restriction. Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist from the U.S. National Institute on Aging, concluded an experiment in 2003. It explains that Intermittent fasting mice, in some ways becomes healthier than peers who follow a calorie restrictive diet. There is for example less insulin and glucose in their blood, making them more sensitive to insulin and less risk for diabetes.
Intermittent fasting, long life
Intermittent fasting is accepted healthy for the mind. But the physical benefits were only widely recognized at the beginning of the 20th century. It was when fasting was first recommended by doctors in diseases such as diabetes, obesity and epilepsy.
In the 1930s, a calorie restriction study gained momentum after nutritionist Clive McCay’s study. He was from Cornell University and found that rats given a strict diet from childhood, lived longer than rats who ate whatever they wanted. They were also less likely to be vulnerable to cancer and degenerative diseases. The research on calorie restriction and Intermittent fasting periodically pulled together when scientists from the University of Chicago in 1945 revealed that rats that were Intermittent fasting lived much longer.
Mattson and other researchers now pick up the thread again. They are working on the hypothesis claiming intermittent fasting reduces the risk of degenerative diseases later in life. The research team from the National Institute on Aging has shown that intermittent fasting protects nerve cells against various harmful influences, at least in rodents. Their first studies showed that every day feeding makes the brains of rats resistant to toxins that cause cell damage within the same kind of aging process. In later study Mattson revealed that intermittent fasting provides protection against the damage caused by strokes and Parkinson’s disease. Also it is slowing down the cognitive deterioration in mice that have been genetically engineered the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. The researcher, himself a slender and slim man, save for years on breakfast and lunch, except on weekends. He explains “It makes me more productive”.
According to Mattson Intermittent fasting protects the mechanism of the body’s cells from molecular damage. For example, it increases the number of “chaperone proteins” which ensures that other molecules in the cell pushed into each other in the right way. In addition, intermittent fasting mice have a higher content of the neurotrophic factor BDNF which prevents nerve cells to die. A low BDNF content is resulted in a variety of disorders from depression to Alzheimer. But it is still unclear whether this relationship is one of cause and effect. Intermittent fasting also stimulates autophagy. It is a cell-specific waste disposal system that eliminates damaged molecules, including molecules that are linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.
One of the main effects of intermittent fasting is that our sensitivity to insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) appears to increase. Attenuated insulin sensitivity often occurs with obesity, and may also play a role in diabetes and heart failure. In animals and people who reach old age, we often see abnormally low insulin levels. This is probably because their cells are more sensitive to the hormone and thus less need insulin. A recent survey of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California showed that mice fed up every for eight hours and then fasting for the rest of the day, are not obese and do not get dangerously high insulin levels.
The idea that Intermittent fasting could provide some of the positive health effects of constant calorie restriction, and that you can lose weight without having to leave the lavish tables, still get more people on the line to try it.
Intermittent fasting may gain popularity but the trend is not based on solid clinical foundation, and little is known for the long-term health effects. A Spanish study of 1957 threw some light on the matter. In 2006 James Johnson, together with other scientists analyzed the results of that research in which 60 men and women went on one day fasting and richly ate the other day. The subjects brought together 123 days in the hospital, and six of them died. In the control group of 60 the number of hospital days increased to 219, and there were 13 deaths.
In 2007, Johnson and Mattson published the results of a clinical trial in which nine overweight asthmatics followed Intermittent fasting for two months. Both their asthma symptoms and diverse symptoms of inflammation were thereby rapidly and significantly alleviated.
But in the literature there are also less attractive results about Intermittent fasting. Studies in Brazil found results that a long period of intermittent fasting results in increased blood glucose and more oxidants in the tissue, which can cause cell damage. Mattson is also co-author of a study in 2012 in which the heart tissue of Intermittent fasting rats hardened, and the organ could pump less blood for an unknown reason.
Some weight loss experts are skeptical about Intermittent fasting, because of the strong appetite and consequent binge eating may crop up suddenly. The most recent study on calorie restriction on primates also emphasizes the way that we should not overturn patterns of people.
Yet our habit to consume is three meals a day, it seems a strange invention of modern times. Our distant ancestors had little food, so intermittent fasting was not strange to them.