The Fasting Program That May Prevent Age Related Diseases
Cleansing, fasting, caloric-restriction— all of these diet “tricks” typically don’t sit well with the D2D team. But, new research has indicated that controlled fasting performed roughly twice a year may help keep your healthy cells healthy and enable your body to replace damaged cells. Is this another gimmick or new information that we should actually listen to? Before the media runs wild with this research, let’s find the facts…
But how does this ‘diet’ compare to other fasting diets we have reviewed?
One scientist you might remember from the Michael Mosley BBC documentary, Eat, Fast, & Live Longer, is Dr. Valter Longo. Dr. Longo is a renowned cell biologist and the Director of the University of Southern California Longevity Institute.
Dr. Valter Longo hopes to better understand the root cause of many life-threatening diseases, and asserts that age is the biggest contributing factor to diseases such as CVD, diabetes, and alzheimer’s.
He has discovered 2 out of 3 cellular pathways of aging and a natural intervention process with a tremendous impact on biological aging: Fasting.
“The medical field has turned into a ‘Band-Aid field”…. we wait until somebody has developed cancer and then we use chemotherapy or other therapies that do some good and kill cancer cells, but also kill the normal cells.” (Dr. Valter Longo)
Dr. Longo believes that when used appropriately, a “fasting-mimicking diet”— which is not a diet plan, but rather of a way to shock your system— can help your body rejuvenate itself, regenerate healthy cells, and eliminate harmful cells.
While he has performed the bulk of his research in mice, more recently (and more notably), with other biologists in his field, Dr. Longo performed several human trials to test the success of a fasting-mimicking diet on both healthy people with risk factors for diseases, cancer patients, and multiple sclerosis patients.
“Is it possible that fasting tells the body to kill damaged cells and make new cells after re-feeding, such as new cells in the immune system.”
Does the body has everything it needs to rejuvenate itself?
Can fasting push your body to go into this regenerative and rejuvenated mode?
The FMD Research…
As we mentioned, Dr. Longo, with a team of prominent scientists in the anti-aging field, published the study “Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.” Additionally, upon its completion, this study was peer-reviewed by other scientists in the field. The findings were established as credible and it was published according to best practices and standards set by the scientific community.
“When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged…
What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back.” – Dr. Valter Longo
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a very important hormone for cell growth, tissue strengthening, and healing skin. However, too much or too little can have detrimental effects on health. The science is still inconclusive on effects of too high or too low IGF-1— but it hypothesized that low IGF-1 levels can increase inflammation in the human body. For example, it has been found that people with inflammatory bowel disease often have low IGF-1 levels. Levels of high IGF-1 are also associated with cancer, especially for people that show markers for cancerous cells.
Participants demonstrated similar results to the studies performed in mouse models.
In a pilot clinical trial, three FMD cycles decreased risk factors/biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer without major adverse effects, providing support for the use of FMDs to promote health-span. Source
A ‘post hoc analysis’ means that after concluding the human trial, the scientists who performed this study then compared the results of participants who were on the FMD diet versus participants who remained on the normal diet to see if differences existed. So, in laymen’s terms, the human participants benefitted from the FMD cycles, similarly to what had been shown in mice.
Dr. Valter Longo at a Ted Talk Presentation:
Fasting: awakening the rejuvenation from within.
Applying this research to the average consumer…
So, should we incorporate the FMD fast in our life?
That is a little tougher to answer…
Until the findings of this research are replicated in larger human trials, it cannot be conclusively stated that fasting-mimicking diets are the key to cell rejuvenation.
However, the findings of this study demonstrate that the FMD approach is safe for practice with the approval of a licensed nurse practitioner or physician. “Pre-disposed” participants experienced a significant drop in key markers for CVD, diabetes, and cancer. Additionally, healthy participants demonstrated a minimal drop, which are the results you want. For example, researchers would not want a participant who has low blood pressure or low glucose levels to drop further into an unsafe range, as this could cause health problems. Despite this success, the results can only be considered conclusive when they have been replicated across many different human trials. Thus, Longo and his colleagues will have to perform larger multi-center studies to conclusively demonstrate the efficacy and safety of the periodic FMD’s.
Unlike more notable fasting diets and trends, the fasting-mimicking diet is designed to be used as more of a reset.
Recent studies on fasting “provide the foundation for a new way to prevent and treat diseases, not by lowering specific risk factors but by activating stem cells, killing damaged cells, and replacing them with new and functional ones.”
Dr. Longo believes that a fasting mimicking diet “switches the clock back a little bit by promoting regeneration and rejuvenation effects,” thus delaying the progression of age-related diseases. Large human clinical trials are currently being planned to try and determine whether the Fast Mimicking Diet is something that should be incorporated into our future. We will have to wait and see! In the meantime, Dr. Longo’s reearch can also be found on his facebook page.
The Bottom Line:
This research is promising. Although it cannot be definitively stated that a fasting-mimicking diet will rejuvenate your healthy cells, the study presented indicates that a FMD could be a healthy way to rejuvenate your body and lower markers for age-related diseases like CVD, cancer, and diabetes.
“Fasting for Longevity: 9 Questions for Dr. Valter D. Longo.” Blue Zones. N.p., 23 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Gersema, Emily. “Fasting-like diet turns the immune system against cancer.” USC News. University of Southern California, 12 July 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
Jones, Christopher Edward. “IGF-1 & Intermittent Fasting: Discussion with Valter Longo.”. 26 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
Wei, S. Brandhorst, M. Shelehchi, H. Mirzaei, C. W. Cheng, J. Budniak, S. Groshen, W. J. Mack, E. Guen, S. Di Biase, P. Cohen, T. E. Morgan, T. Dorff, K. Hong, A. Michalsen, A. Laviano, V. D. Longo, Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Sci. Transl. Med. 9, eaai8700 (2017).
“Scientists Explain How Fasting Fights Cancer, Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Changes Your Brain (In A Good Way).” Collective Evolution. N.p., 27 Aug. 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.
“The Surprising Truth About IGF-1 and How to Increase and Inhibit It.” Selfhacked. N.p., 30 Mar. 2017. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.