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article imageA fasting diet may slowdown the effects of ageing

By Tim Sandle     Jun 21, 2015 in Health
A new research paper suggests that a diet that mimics the effects of fasting could slow down the effects of ageing. The data collected so far is based on animal models.
There are many "fad" diets out there and each one needs to be treated with a degree of skepticism. Nonetheless, a new research paper provides some empirical data that the some form of fasting slows down the rate of ageing.
The research has been highlighted in a statement issued by University of Southern California, where the study has been carried out. The research shows that cycles of a four-day low-calorie dieting, designed to replicate fasting, cut belly fat in rodents. The diet also increased the stem cells in the brain region of old mice. Here researcher measures increased neural regeneration and enhanced learning and memory. On this basis the diet reduces fat and acts against some of the neurodegenerative effects in the brain that arise through ageing.
The reason for the scientists choosing to study mice was because the rodents have relatively short lifespans; therefore the effects of ageing can be seen more quickly and results from trials using different diets are apparent over a few weeks rather than waiting years, as would be the case if other mammals were selected for study.
The diet to which the mice were subjected to was around half the amount of calories that they would normally have received. Using such a diet, the mice were compared with a control group who were not subjected to the restricted diet. The key differences between the two groups, as the research note reveals, were: “extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities.”
The same research group has also looked at yeast cells. The was, again, because the effects can be seen relatively quickly, especially when looking at the next generation, given the rapid pace at which yeast cells divide.
A primary limitation with such research is that humans may well respond differently; there is not always a clear link between animal model studies and the physiology of humans. In addition, the life style factors that can influence how a body ages are far more complex.However, for safety reasons, animal research is required before any human trial can be considered.
With this obstacle out of the way, the research group have begun looking into human trials and some initial studies have begun. While these trials are at an early stage, and there are far more complex bio-markers to look for, some of the findings are interesting.
The focus of the human trials is orientated towards examining for cancer. The data will take some years to compile. However, six months into the trial with human subjects, some promising results are emerging.
Readers should be warned about attempting such diets themselves. What is happening with the current research is a controlled experiment where there is medical support. Ensuing that sufficient nutrients and vitamins are consumed is of great importance. As with any diet, advice should be sought from a qualified healthcare or medical practitioner. Risks are higher for people with particular medical conditions, like diabetes.
The findings thus far have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism. The paper is titled “A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan.”
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