Fasting could slow down ageing

Alternate-day fasting could be the secret to a longer life, according to research

The idea of fasting every other day is hardly a pleasant one, but according to new research it could be the answer to a longer and healthier life.

The study carried out by the University of California, suggests that calorie restriction, particularly alternate-day fasting, can lower the risk of conditions such as heart disease and cancer, as well as aid weight loss.

Dr Kritsa Varady, who led a study on overweight and the obese at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said: ‘After eight weeks of alternate-day fasting we saw that blood cholesterol was down, along with reductions in blood pressure, heart rates, and fat found in blood.

‘These are all key risk indictors of heart disease, so may not only help people lose weight but also help them decrease their risk of coronary events.’

The idea is to have a ‘feeding day’ where there are no restrictions , followed by a day where around 25% or less food is consumed – the same as a light lunch.

Over eight weeks, those who were tested lost 8% of their weight and bad cholesterol levels were down. The findings also showed that alternate-fasting aided asthma sufferers.

So why exactly does it work? Medics don’t exactly know. One theory is that it has a beneficial effect on the distribution of stored fat in the body. It has also been proven to have an impact on insulin levels, body temperature and stress.

Researchers have also discovered that fasting triggers a gene that promotes survival by protecting cells and stops them from dying prematurely.

Dr James Johnson, who led the study, said: ‘The gene can also slow the aging process by reducing the risk of age-related disease and health threats.’

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