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Alternate-day fasting and longevity

Alternate-day fasting and longevity

Additionally, fasting can make existing Overload principle in training adaptations deficiencies Alternate-day fasting and longevity Alternat-day as vitamin D deficiency, estimated Atlernate-day be relatively fawting even fatsing developed countries. facebook twitter linkedin. Alternate-day fasting and longevity the question is, could we develop a way of getting the benefits of the health effects and longevity effects of calorie restriction without having to go on a diet? For decades scientists overlooked the possibility that the hours without food might contribute to the health and longevity gains among calorie-restricted animals.

Alternate-day fasting and longevity -

Science shows that energy restriction can activate many evolutionarily conserved pathways in our body that might benefit longevity.

In fact, many scientific studies have found that different forms of calorie restriction can prolong lifespan and healthspan in organisms such as worms, flies, mice, and non-human primates.

To figure out why and if calorie restriction works, it is important to study the effects in organisms like fruit flies before moving up to translational research in people like you and me. A second reason why lifespan extension using calorie restriction is difficult to study in humans is that chronic restriction of calories is hard for most people, and scientists believe that most dietary restriction regimens are not feasible.

Whether due to an incompatibility with lifestyle or the uncomfortable hunger, drastically cutting calories for the long term seems to be aversive to most people. Because of this, the topic has been infrequently and unsuccessfully implemented in the research field.

Luckily, there are alternatives. One such alternative goes by the name intermittent fasting IF. One form of intermittent fasting known as alternate-day fasting ADF may be particularly useful. Eat one day, fast the next, repeat. Sounds simple, and it is. It also might be feasible for more people and provide health span and lifespan benefits similar to those observed with calorie restriction.

Many ADF studies have been conducted in overweight individuals or those with diseases like type 2 diabetes to successfully improve weight, metabolism, and cardiovascular health.

But what about the effects of alternate-day fasting on aging? Randomized controlled trials, also known as RCTs the gold-standard way to study the effectiveness of an intervention , have assessed the effects of short-term ADF on a plethora of physiological biomarkers related to aging and longevity.

The results are quite promising. One recent study involved a total of 90 participants between the ages of 48 and 52 years old.

These individuals were investigated as a prospective cohort, meaning that researchers looked at how their past lifestyle habits influenced their current health biomarkers, without implementing any experimental intervention.

Another 60 participants were randomized into either an ADF group or a non-ADF control group for four weeks. Nobody in these groups reported any previous fasting experience. Those assigned to the ADF group were told to eat every other day. On the fasting days, no calorie-containing foods or beverages were consumed, and even diet soda was prohibited.

They were allowed only water, flavored carbonated water, unsweetened black and green tea, and black coffee. The non-fasting days placed zero restrictions on the amount or type of food consumed; this is termed ad libitum eating.

Essentially, participants were allowed to feast like royalty if they so desired. The researchers were interested in how alternate-day fasting would influence metabolic health markers, sex hormones, body composition, age-related biomarkers such as oxidative stress, cardiovascular health, and levels of blood ketones, which have been associated with pro-longevity pathways and improved healthspan and lifespan in animals.

Something very notable about this study was that participants in the ADF group reduced their weekly caloric consumption by about 37 percent.

This is quite an impressive reduction. Participants in the ADF group also improved their lean mass to fat mass ratio. In healthy midlife and older adults, restricting feeding to an 8 hour window for 6 weeks did not improve cardiovascular function, but did improve blood sugar control modestly and did not affect lean mass.

The cardiovascular benefits of this diet are less certain, however. Periodic Fasting: Periodic fasting can produce similar kinds of changes as intermittent fasting strategies. In one study including 1, non-obese individuals aged between 18 and 99, participants reduced their calorie intake to — kcal for days.

This significantly reduced weight, abdominal circumference, blood pressure, blood sugar, LDL, triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Perhaps unsurprisingly considering the more extreme nature of PF, these changes were generally more significant than those observed in IF studies.

The fasting-mimicking diets appear capable of achieving similar though possibly less significant benefits in healthy individuals. Three 5-day FDM cycles reduced weight and lowered blood pressure, as well as various other markers for age-related diseases.

Both intermittent and periodic fasting strategies can be effective at reducing markers of age related disease even in healthy individuals, but periodic fasting has the potential to achieve more rapid and possibly more significant effects.

There is also some evidence from animal studies suggesting that a minimum of 72 hours is required to achieve some of the cellular benefits of fasting.

Prolonged fasting is also limited by the frequency with which which it can be carried out, and is challenging to adhere to. For these reasons, it is difficult to single out a fasting strategy as superior in terms of health benefits alone.

It is important to consider the potential side effects and dangers of each fasting strategy as these could in some cases reduce or even outweigh the potential health benefits. This is arguably the most important consideration when it comes to choosing a fasting method.

Being the less extreme of the two approaches, intermittent fasting appears to be safer in general, though there is variability depending on the specific conditions of the fast. For example, one study found that alternate day fasting produced no side effects in healthy, non-obese individuals, even after 6 months.

Time-restricted feeding periods of 12 hours or less also appear to be safe. The safety of time restricted feeding lasting longer than this is less clear.

There is some suggestion that it may be associated with negative health consequences, but it this may be due to factors outside of the fasting itself.

For example, one of the most commonly used methods to fast for over 12 hours is to skip breakfast, which has been associated with increased mortality from all causes. Prolonged fasting has the potential to be unsafe outside of a clinical environment because of the rapid decline in weight, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Additionally, fasting can make existing nutrient deficiencies worse such as vitamin D deficiency, estimated to be relatively common even in developed countries.

Side effects are less likely to occur for shorter fasting periods, but we do not have a good understanding of the long-term effects of extended periods weeks of fasting. This cycle of weight gain and weight loss has been linked to increased mortality.

Conversely, fasting-mimicking diet cycles that alternate with normal feeding periods appear to be safe in humans while maintaining beneficial effects. However, we are in need of studies investigating the safety of FMD diets when they are carried out repeatedly over an extended period.

Until then, it may be prudent to consider frequent periods of FMD as potentially unsafe. Overall, confounding variables make it challenging to accurately assess the safety of different fasting approaches, but it seems likely that intermittent fasting techniques are safer.

In the case of periodic fasting, prolonged fasts of more than 7 days should probably be avoided outside of a clinical setting. In all cases, fasting does not reduce the importance of eating a healthy diet during the feeding period.

Here is a table summarising my own assessment of the research discussed in this article. Note that the entries in this table are generalisations based on current research, and will vary depending on age, weight, and many other factors.

An 80 year-old is not going to be able to fast as safely as a 20 year-old, and someone who is overweight is likely to find fasting more difficult than a lean person.

If I were to personally choose a fasting strategy to follow based on the current evidence, it would depend on the outcome I wanted to achieve. If I wanted to lose a set amount of weight as quickly as possible, then I would choose prolonged fasting, as this approach produces the most rapid weight loss.

I am young and healthy, and therefore less likely to experience adverse effects, and am confident in my ability to fast for an extended period. I would instead choose a method that can be maintained for long periods — most likely alternate day fasting because it appears to be beneficial regardless of health status, while also being relatively safe.

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