Feast-and-famine diet shows promise for longevity, study says

Every other day: Alternating between feasting and fasting could lead to better health and longevity, according to recent research. — AFP-Relaxnews pic
Every other day: Alternating between feasting and fasting could lead to better health and longevity, according to recent research. — AFP-Relaxnews pic

LOS ANGELES, March 6 — High intensity interval training has hit the dinner table.

Fasting has been demonstrated to have health benefits, yet since it’s not possible to fast indefinitely, researchers suggest doing so intermittently for a long and healthy life.

“We found that intermittent fasting caused a slight increase to SIRT 3, a well-known gene that promotes longevity and is involved in protective cell responses,” says Michael Guo, a MD-PhD candidate at the University of Florida and Harvard Medical School.

The research team worked with 24 participants who alternated between eating just 25 per cent of their daily caloric intake and 175 per cent of it on a daily basis.

An average male participant would have eaten 650 calories on fasting days and 4,550 calories on feasting days in the double-blind clinical trial that took three weeks to complete.

Researchers measured changes in weight, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, cholesterol, inflammation markers and genes involved in protective cell responses throughout the course of 10 weeks in totality.

Measuring these parameters again after the trial yielded an increase in beneficial sirtuin proteins activated by the gene SIRT 3-and also called SIRT 3, as well as SIRT 1.

An increase in these proteins in mice has been associated with a longer lifespan, according to Guo, who says they could become activated by an excess of free radicals in the body that results in a condition called oxidative stress.

In other words, the body’s response to stress is to create protective pathways, say the researchers, whose study was published in the journal Rejuvenation Research.

“The hypothesis is that if the body is intermittently exposed to low levels of oxidative stress, it can build a better response to it,” says Martin Wegman an MD-PhD candidate at the UF College of Medicine.

Next in order was to test this hypothesis by repeating the feast-then-famine diet with antioxidant supplements, which they did using vitamin C and vitamin E.

Sure enough, some of the increases in sirtuin proteins disappeared, which supports other research indicating that antioxidants can counter the effects of exercise. — AFP-Relaxnews