Someone of unknown origin remarked, “Desire for everlasting life is universal, yet no one desires to do any rigorous abstaining.” Does fasting make you live longer? Can intermittent fasting increase lifespan in humans? This article will give you some answers.
It is likely something you are aware of, even if it is not a fixed belief, that fasting can improve health. It might be appealing to you to try the 5:2 Diet, as it has promised to let you slim down quickly and efficiently by allowing two 600-calorie days each week. You may have considered starting a detox diet with drinks made from vegetable juices. This approach claims to reduce toxins in the body, even though it is not likely to be true. This is a society overflowing with unfounded scientific theories and baseless medical treatments. Science-based evidence has corroborated the benefits of fasting. The advantages of this could be greater than anybody had earlier dared to think.
Studies have revealed the remarkable effects of diets that simulate the effects of fasting, leading to the activation of extraordinary natural healing and restorative powers within us. Processes that not only get rid of fat but also prevent heart disease, decelerate aging, decrease cholesterol levels, reset the immune system and prolong lifespan.
Research has shown that fasting can destroy certain types of human cancer in mice and boost the potency of chemotherapy treatment. Some tests showed that fasting was just as good as chemotherapy treatments. In summary, research says that not eating may be an effective way of preventing and treating some of the most lethal diseases for men.
The creator of the specific, prescribed diet I’m currently following is Doctor Valter Longo. The University of Southern California, professor of gerontology began his investigation after observing that yeast cells, organisms that have been in existence for millions of years before humans, react to times of abstinence by defending cells and battling toxins. Longo noticed that yeast given a low-calorie diet were able to remain alive and healthy up to 10 times longer than the yeast which was not given the same diet.
Recent research from Longo has uncovered evidence that humans possess ingrained mechanisms for self-healing within our genetic material. Inhibiting caloric intake on a regular basis can evidently reinvigorate the body. The causes of this are partially known; the rest are unknown. It is thought that by depriving cancer cells of glycogen, which they need for fuel more than ordinary cells, fasting can prompt them to emit dangerous free radicals, which cause them to ‘commit suicide’.
The therapeutic effects of fasting are largely due to an alternate process. It has been demonstrated by Longo that fasting instigates the formation of new stem cells, which repair the body by regenerating various structures like organs, tissues, and blood, and also rejuvenating the immune system. When I contacted Longo on the phone in his laboratory in California, I expressed to him that the situation seemed implausible. He remarked that the rejuvenation momentum fasting triggers is extraordinary. While fasting, the liver and immune system are downsized as they are not needed as much. When the body repairs these systems, it stimulates the production of strong stem cells, which create new, younger, higher-performing replacements.
He suggests that it is similar to starting over and giving your body a fresh restart. He states that the rebuilding is incredibly extensive and is likely comparable to the development of an embryo from the first through the eighth week of gestation. It is not just an increase in the number of cells, but rather a very well-organized one. The ability to go without food has been developed over the course of billions of years since the time of our primitive ancestors, since Homo sapiens did not have the luxury of fridges and grocery stores to consistently provide them with food. According to Longo, the key is to regain our original state of existence.
The Hunger Games
There’s a catch. It is not just about abstaining from food for five days. You must severely limit the amount of food you eat, but Longo’s findings show that the calories you do ingest need to be well-balanced in terms of their nutritional content in order to elicit an internal process known as autophagy, which stimulates your body to eliminate dead cells. View it as a type of self-recycling, eliminating cells that could possibly cause health problems or sickness. Autophagy is key, as it leads to the deactivation of the enzyme PKA, which has been linked to a longer life and a bigger number of healthy stem cells. Additionally, it causes the amount of the hormone IGF-1 to become reduced, which may be connected to aging and a higher risk of cancer.
The discoveries made by Longo could greatly benefit us all, yet their financial benefits must be enjoyed by L-Nutra, a startup founded by the University of Southern California, first. Working in collaboration with L-Nutra, Professor Longo has created ProLon, a convenient Fasting Mimicking and Enhancing Diet available for purchase at most pharmacies. This five-day list of all-natural soups, nut bars, and snacks should contain enough nutrients to reduce the urges (in theory) while still allowing the positives that have been established by refraining from eating. ProLon mimics a feeling of near-starvation, even when you are only feeling hungry.
On the first day, the diet consists of 1090 calories (10% from protein, 56% from fat, 34% from carbohydrates). On days two through five, the calorie count decreases to 725 (9% from protein, 44% from fat, and 47% from carbohydrates). Longo emphasizes that the essential factor in creating the food was that it emulates the effects of fasting. This food has been put together over two decades of careful effort: taking out, putting in, and replacing. Would adding that ingredient change the influence of the PKA effect? Will this one affect the IGF-1 changes? We attempted to make people feel somewhat sated in regard to hunger.
Research on ProLon’s potential for human use is currently taking place, and L-Nutra is hoping to release the FMED packages in the near future with an approximate price tag of about £150 for the five-day supply. People with optimal health should be encouraged to make an appointment for FMED every four months or so, meanwhile those who are overweight may find more success in taking it once a month.
A Portion of Caution
Not everyone is similarly convinced, however. Prof. Kieran Clarke, a member of the University of Oxford’s physiology, anatomy, and genetics department, suggests that fasting might be an unclear representation of the underlying message. He states that the potential for fasting to prolong life is there, but whether it is truly the fasting itself that does the job is uncertain. It might be due to the advantages of aiding individuals to obtain a healthy weight. Examining the data, it is clear that people who are healthy typically do not abstain from food.
Dr Tim Woodman, the medical director of Bupa UK, takes things a step further. He thinks that abstaining from food might actually lead to bad health. He warns that when losing weight fast, muscle mass and hydration can be decreased. Consequently, your body begins to operate at a slower pace and requires fewer energy to do its tasks. When you start eating regular amounts of food again, the extra calories you consume will be stored in your body as fat.
Nematode Worms and Anti-Aging
A research study in Cell Metabolism in 2017 illustrated a relationship between aging and age-related sicknesses with a diminishment in the cells’ proficiency of producing energy proficiently.
The researchers took advantage of nematode worms, whose life span is limited to only 2 weeks, to study their mitochondria, the minuscule organelles that generate energy in cells.
The researchers concluded that limiting caloric intake and controlling the AMPK fuel detector could result in a longer lifespan due to kept mitochondrial webs and improved fatty acid breakdown. Interaction with other cellular elements called peroxisomes, which manage fatty acid metabolism, took place.
The researchers suggested that breaking down and combining the mitochondria’s network and fatty acid oxidation are necessary to have a long life span. In order to experience an increased lifespan brought about by intermittent fasting, one must have the flexible alteration of mitochondrial networks that is activated due to physiological and pathological triggers.
Caloric Restriction of Rats and Monkeys
It has been found that reducing daily caloric intake and practicing intermittent fasting can potentially increase life expectancy.
- In 1946, a study on rats found that fasting 1 day in 3 increased lifespan in males by 20% and in females by 15%. They didn’t experience any retardation of growth, but what did happen was the death of tumors increased in proportion to the amount of fasting. Other studies on rodents have noted reduced inflammation and other age-related health issues.
- Fasting has been shown to increase the lifespan of bacteria and yeast by more than 100%.
- Caloric restriction shows an increased lifespan of brain neurons in both humans and monkeys.
- In 2009, a group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin reported improved biomarker and longevity benefits in rhesus monkeys who ate less. However, in 2012, a study done by the National Institute of Aging noted there to be no improvements in survival but they did find a trend toward better health.
- After working through the conflicting outcomes, it’s thought that the different results were caused by several things.
- Caloric restriction is more beneficial in adults and older monkeys but not as so in younger animals.
- How much less food was eaten also affected the differences in survival rates.
- The monkeys in NIA ate naturally sourced foods, whereas the ones in Wisconsin ate processed food with higher sugar content, which made them substantially fatter.
- There were also sex differences, where females seemed to have fewer adverse effects of obesity than males. This makes sense, as women are more prone to carrying extra fat for their offspring.
Can Fasting Increase Lifespan in Humans
What about humans? Do the practices of limiting caloric intake and fasting intermittently have a similar effect on increasing the human life span? Approximately 93% of the genetic material we possess is similar to that of the Rhesus Monkey.
A research project which involved alternate day fasting for 3 weeks found that a gene related to increased life expectancy, SIRT1, increased in the study’s sample. The sirtuin genes are in charge of controlling the functioning of the hypothalamus, which thus affects the daily cycles, food consumption habits and energy expenditure.
The cause of this occurrence remains a mystery, however, it is hypothesized that calorie limitation brings about increased cellular respiration, thus resulting in an elevation of NAD+ levels and a decrease in NADH concentrations. NADH inhibits Sir2 and SIRT1.
It has been demonstrated that Sirt genes can stimulate the production of PGC-1α, which in turn leads to an increase in the number of mitochondria. Sirt 3, 4, and 5 are linked to enhanced mitochondrial operation.
This looks to be an indication that even if lifespan is not extended, caloric restriction and fasting will still lead to an increased durability of the cells. In order to gain a better understanding of how the process functions, let’s revisit the initial research about the nano tode worms and their mitochondrial network energy flows.
The activity of mitochondria is reflected in the processes of splitting and merging.
- Fusion states happen when several mitochondria mix and organize themselves into a network.
- Fission states happen when the fused mitochondria get split into 2 out of which the one with a higher membrane potential will return to the fission-fusion-cycle and the one with a more depolarized membrane will stay solitary until its membrane potential recovers. If its membrane potential remains depolarized, it’ll lose its ability to fuse and eventually will be eliminated by a process called mitophagy, which is the degradation of mitochondria by autophagy.
Variations in nutritional and energy supply can cause the mitochondria to remain in either of these conditions for an extended period.
- Post Fusion State is called Elongation, which is characteristic to states of energy efficiency, such as starvation, acute stress, caloric restriction, and senescence.
- Post Fission State is called Fragmentation, which shortens the mitochondria and keeps them separate. This is typical to bioenergetic inefficiency that’s caused by high energy supply and extended exposure to excess nutrient environments.
The mitochondria developed a capacity to cope with extreme fluctuations in food sources, such as times of fasting and times of abundance. Fasting and limiting the number of calories consumed can improve mitochondrial performance by joining multiple mitochondria together. When too much food is consumed, the mitochondria within the body are disrupted and they become unable to produce energy.
How Can Caloric Restriction Increase Lifespan
Any other genetic pathways we have discussed are involved in the optimization of energy usage and the limitation of resources.
When your body is not getting enough energy from food, perhaps due to a diet that cuts calories, going without eating, or something similar, it will work to merge mitochondria. This reduces the amount of energy you need because the component parts of your cells are more closely linked. It will cause you to reprocess outdated and used-up cell parts and turn them into energy again through the procedure of autophagy. Mitophagy takes place in the interior of the mitochondrial division-combination cycle.
Cutting down on energy consumption increases the activity of genes that make use of energy more efficiently by improving insulin reaction and fat burning. The longevity of the nematode worms was extended because of their ability to employ peroxisome-mediated fatty acid metabolism.
When fasting or not taking in enough calories from external sources, your mitochondria increase their activity, creating energy within your body.
In Conclusion – Does Fasting Make You Live Longer
So, what to make of this? I strongly feel that calorie limitation and regular fasting both lead to an increased lifespan in a multitude of species and probably have a comparable outcome in humans too.
If longevity isn’t directly improved, then reducing inflammation, reducing body fat, and having improved mitochondrial function will still have an indirect impact on increasing life span and maintaining a youthful appearance.
The main point here is that engaging in intermittent fasting and lowering your caloric intake will enable your body to become more efficient in its energy usage.
In order to avoid malnutrition and hunger, you need to abstain from consuming any calories for a set amount of time. Maintaining a permanent anabolic state, either due to too many meals or an excess of carbohydrates and protein, will impede cells from starting autophagy, which can increase your aging process.