Studies have proven that what you eat determines to a great extent your health, youthfulness and cellular age, but it turns out that how you eat also matters. Researchers have been conducting studies on different forms of intermittent fasting (reducing your food intake in whole or in part, a few days a week, every other day or once a week) and the results have shown that this practice can help regulate the insulin levels, decrease the risk of chronic disease, slow down aging and prevent dementia. Let’s take a look at what other benefits it provides, who it is suitable for and whether there are other options except strict fasting.
· According to Mark Mattson, head of the National Institute on Aging's neuroscience laboratory, intermittent fasting acts as a form of mild stress that continually boosts cellular defenses against molecular damage. His studies with mice showed that occasional fasting increases the levels of “chaperone proteins,” which don’t allow the incorrect assembly of other molecules in the cell. Another effect from intermittent fasting was the increased level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – a protein preventing stressed neurons from dying.
· Fasting also plays a role in autophagy, which is like a garbage-disposal system in cells that cleans them from damaged molecules, including ones that have been previously linked to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases.
As mentioned above, fasting increases the body's responsiveness to
insulin which is very important since decreased sensitivity to insulin is
linked to obesity, diabetes and heart failure. It’s has been discovered that long-lived animals and people tend to have
unusually low insulin. It is
considered that the reason for this is the high sensitivity of their cells to
the hormone and that is why they need less of it.
· It might help in alleviating asthma symptoms. A study published in 2007 by Mattson, Johnson and their colleagues showed a rapid, significant alleviation of asthma symptoms and numerous signs of inflammation in nine overweight asthmatics who near-fasted every other day for two months.
· Cancer cells starve out during fasting according to Valter Longo’s research studies ( a professor of Biogerontology at the USC Davis School of Gerontology and director of the USC Longevity Institute).
· It has anti-age effects. Valter Longo also explains about fasting:” It’s about reprogramming the body so it enters a slower aging mode, but also rejuvenating it through stem cell-based regeneration.”