It is known that restricting calories and intermittent fasting helps to increase lifespan.
In addition, there is plenty of research to show that these programs have amazing health benefits for the body and brain. Some people cut down on calories or fast on and off during the week to help manage their weight. The problem is that for many, these types of programs are difficult to follow.
Another method that has great promise for longevity and value for health is following a Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD). It has research that indicates positive benefits without complete calorie restriction. A scientist, Dr. Valter Longo developed the FMD to prevent complete starvation as in fasting. Dr Longo has studied the effects of fasting and what is considered nutrient response genes on the protection of cells from aging and health problems.
The FMD provides similar benefits as fasting, however it allows plant based and whole food. The diet is low in calories, but higher in healthy fats and low in protein and carbohydrates. It has been recommended that a health care practitioner is notified prior to starting a FMD or any other type of new dietary regimen, especially if one has a health concern and/or is on medication.
The FMD is a low calorie diet, which includes around 1,090 calories with 10% protein, 56% fat, 34% carbohydrates), but also the second day of the diet through day five provides 725 calories containing 9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbohydrates.
Animal studies have been performed with 4 days of a FMD, twice monthly (Brandhorst S et al, 2015).
The research showed that animals that were middle aged had the following benefits:
Extension of longevity
Helped to rejuvenate the immune system
Reduced visceral fat (stored in the abdominal cavity)
Reduced cell mutations and skin problems
Slowed down bone mineral density loss
In aged animals, this program stimulated neural processes and cognitive function; decreased IGF-1 levels and PKA activity, among other attributes.
Animal research also shows that FMD shows benefits to the pancreas (Cheng C-W et al, 2017).
IGF-1 is a hormone that has been involved in metabolism and growth and a reduction is associated with improving longevity
A randomized human clinical study was performed where subjects followed 3 cycles of a 5-day FMD per month and there was a control group on a regular diet (Wei M et al, 2017). It showed that the diet was safe and the group following the FMD lost almost 6 pounds. The weight loss was due partially to loss in total body fat. The control group did not lose any weight. Also, there was a reduction in blood pressure and Insulin Growth Factor -1 (IGF-1) compared to the normal diet.
Restricting calories and intermittent fasting have both shown to promote longevity and reduce health related problems. Research shows health to the body and brain, but it is difficult for many people to follow. The Fasting Mimicking Diet is another method with promising research in animals and humans. The diet is low in calories and is plant based, but the diet is high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrates.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to promote any particular diet. Individuals with health concerns or on medication should check with their health care practitioner before trying any new type of eating plan.