Can Fasting Help You Lose Weight And Live For Longer?
New research suggests that fasting could slow down ageing and extend people’s lives. What fasting diets are there – are are they a good idea?
Intermitent Fasting is in fashion.
There are all sorts of ratios and variants on core idea of dramatically restricting calories for a few days each week while eating normally on other days.
And while this approach seems totally at odds with the traditional health advice we’ve always been given about eating balanced, regular meals, a growing number of scientists are saying IF diets can reduce our chances of developing some chronic diseases and may even add years our lives.
The most recent evidence comes from the University of South California, where researchers found that 34 people on a low-calorie, low-protein diet had a decrease in risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
This builds on a number of earlier findings that suggest fasting reduces blood pressure, increases cellular repair and metabolic rate, and protects against conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
And while it is not be a step towards eternal life, a 2015 study at the University of Florida revealed that fasting on alternate days increased the gene related to anti-ageing in human cells.
Short periods of starvation effectively mimic the eating habits of our ancestors, who did not have access to grocery stores or food around the clock.
It’s not without its risks and downsides, though. Dieticians warn that skipping meals can cause dizziness, difficulties sleeping, dehydration and headaches.
Others are concerned it reinforces poor eating habits. “These diets can encourage a ‘scrimp and splurge’ approach to eating,” says British nutritionist Julia Harding.
“They don’t necessarily promote a good understanding of food. People need to make sure they’re eating nutritious, balanced meals on their ‘off days’ and think beyond calories.”
As fasting continues to win new fans, the array of variations is about as dizzying as a day on zero calories.
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