Scientist have made some tall claims before, but this newest one may top the list. A recent study shows that starving or fasting off and on can boost brain power, help weight loss, and ultimately help one live longer.
This research was performed by the National Institute for Aging. They based their study off of an animal study. In the animal study, lab animals were given the bare minimum of calories required to sustain them. Results showed these animals lived twice as long as those fed more calories.
After the animal study, humans were tested. This type of diet was found to protect the heart, circulatory system, Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.
Another angle of the study showed how the diet effected insulin production, the regulator of sugar. In the animal test, regular lab mice were compared to fasting lab mice. Those who fasted on alternate days needed to produce less insulin. Higher insulin production is associated with lower brain power and the risk of diabetes.
The results showed that the calorie restricted diets improved brain synapses, too. Synapses are the connections between brain cells which encourage the production of new cells and makes them more resistant to stress.
Previous research has shown how periodical starvation can aid in the fight against cancer. The two studies share similar foundations. Scientists have found that depriving healthy cells of food can cause them to go into survival mode. This mode makes the cells highly resistant to stress and damage. In a cancer patient’s case, survival mode would ward off damage from chemotherapy, giving the body a real fighting chance to heal.
These studies are still young, but seem to have a lot of data to back them up. In this day and age, it seems unlikely that voluntary starvation will be the new mainstream health trend, however if it means a longer life free of disease, it may be totally worth it.
February 22nd, 2012