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posted by janrinok on Saturday February 24, @08:36PM   Printer-friendly

Cycles of a diet that mimics fasting can reduce signs of immune system aging, as well as insulin resistance and liver fat in humans, resulting in a lower biological age, according to a new USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology-led study.

The study, published in Nature Communications on Feb. 20, adds to the body of evidence supporting the beneficial effects of the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD).

The FMD is a five-day diet high in unsaturated fats and low in overall calories, protein, and carbohydrates and is designed to mimic the effects of a water-only fast while still providing necessary nutrients and making it much easier for people to complete the fast. The diet was developed by the laboratory of USC Leonard Davis School Professor Valter Longo, the senior author of the new study.

"This is the first study to show that a food-based intervention that does not require chronic dietary or other lifestyle changes can make people biologically younger, based on both changes in risk factors for aging and disease and on a validated method developed by the Levine group to assess biological age," Longo said.

Previous research led by Longo has indicated that brief, periodic FMD cycles are associated with a range of beneficial effects. They can:

  • Promote stem cell regeneration

  • Lessen chemotherapy side effects
  • Reduce the signs of dementia in mice

In addition, the FMD cycles can lower the risk factors for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other age-related diseases in humans.

The Longo lab also had previously shown that one or two cycles of the FMD for five days a month increased the healthspan and lifespan of mice on either a normal or Western diet, but the effects of the FMD on aging and biological age, liver fat, and immune system aging in humans were unknown until now.

More information:Fasting-mimicking diet causes hepatic and blood markers changes indicating reduced biological age and disease risk, Nature Communications (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-024-45260-9

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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by EJ on Saturday February 24, @10:12PM (2 children)

    by EJ (2452) on Saturday February 24, @10:12PM (#1346120)

    You're welcome. []

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by julian on Sunday February 25, @12:15AM

      by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Sunday February 25, @12:15AM (#1346121)

      All of these studies just seem like different ways to achieve the same few goals: more fiber, fewer calories, less saturated fat. Look at the main sources of calories in those diets, vegetables and nuts. "Complex" carbohydrates just means they haven't been processed to remove the fiber. Think the difference between eating an orange and a glass of orange juice.

      The reason there's so many novel approaches to doing this is because our economy, and human psychology, are trying to maximize the opposite of those goals. Any framework is better than the default which is to eat as much as you want of the cheapest food that tastes good. That's the diet program most people are running. That's what our culture and industry-captured economy promotes, subsidizes, normalizes, and advertises. It's more profitable to sell refined carbs, saturated fat, and more calories overall mostly from the cheapest possible ingredients like HFCS. The fact is, personal responsibility does not work for many people to manage weight and health in this environment we have created for them. You need to intentionally intervene in the market and in culture to make the easiest and the cheapest choices the healthiest ones.

      If you insist for ideological reasons that we cannot do that then rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity will skyrocket. We've been running the experiment on ourselves for decades and the results are clear. Some people will no doubt say that's the price of freedom. Pass the corn syrup, please.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by Opportunist on Sunday February 25, @12:16AM

      by Opportunist (5545) on Sunday February 25, @12:16AM (#1346122)

      Should I eat that before or after the meals?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DadaDoofy on Sunday February 25, @12:18AM (1 child)

    by DadaDoofy (23827) on Sunday February 25, @12:18AM (#1346123)
    TFA has literally twenty eight references to the use of various models they relied on to reach this conclusion. Seriously? I can build a model that will generate any result you want. Is modeling, rather than actual studies with real people, really accepted as "science" now?
    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, @03:34AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 25, @03:34AM (#1346146)

      From the paper, linked at the bottom of the fine story, it reports on an actual study:

      Study participants’ baseline data

      Primary outcome measures for this trial ( were to establish the effect of the FMD on metabolic syndrome and biomarkers associated with aging or age-related diseases. For this randomized trial, the sample size of 100 total study participants was based on the detection of a 25% reduction in mean insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), with a two-sided α of 0.05 and 70% power. The estimated control group mean (SD) IGF-1 of 194 (97) used published data on males and females aged 26 to 40 years35. The baseline characteristics for all study participants were previously reported34. In brief, 100 study participants were randomized and assigned to either arm 1 (n = 48) or arm 2 (n = 52). [.....]

  • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Sunday February 25, @11:12AM (2 children)

    by RamiK (1813) on Sunday February 25, @11:12AM (#1346165)

    Like a teenage girl before going to the beach, the dieter is instructed to starve themselves for a few days before going back to normal eating. The key difference is using supplements to mitigate the fast's lack of vitamins while modulating micronutrients to favor high fats during the cut. More critically though, you have clear instructions to avoid binging when done fasting before going back into a healthy menu to finish the cycle.

    Still, it's pretty much what people are told to avoid so... Yeah.

    • (Score: 2) by EJ on Sunday February 25, @11:31AM (1 child)

      by EJ (2452) on Sunday February 25, @11:31AM (#1346166)

      Still, it's pretty much what people are told to avoid so... Yeah.

      That's the entire point of new research. Just because people are told to avoid X, Y, or Z doesn't mean the advice is scientifically sound. We've been told that X is bad, then X is good, then X is bad again. Research is not always conclusive, and the results are not always interpreted correctly.

      I think this guy is trying to say that his studies with this type of diet MIMICS the effects of fasting, giving some benefits without the drawbacks. It sounds similar to new studies about ways to combat insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes.

      I'm not saying he's 100% right, but it's worth giving it a shot. Unless you have some serious underlying health problems, this isn't going to kill you.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RamiK on Sunday February 25, @12:22PM

        by RamiK (1813) on Sunday February 25, @12:22PM (#1346173)

        My intention was more to defend the yo-yo dieters rather than to attack the researchers. The problem is nutritionists turn "good practices" to "the only good practices" by vilifying anything they haven't tested to the point of expanding clinical recommendations to general population.

        The problem is so bad that fitness people started treating nutritionists like quacks.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, @01:09AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 26, @01:09AM (#1346249)
    How does it compare to going "keto"? You could temporarily reduce calories on a ketogenic diet too.