Fasting diet 'can help to reduce risk of major diseases'

Scientific Developments/Breakthroughs

A periodic, five-day fasting diet has been shown to help reduce the risk of major diseases in a clinical trial.

Developed by the University of Southern California, the diet is designed to act on the ageing process by mimicking the results of a water-only fast, meaning participants consume between 750 and 1,100 calories per day. Meals were formulated with precise proportions of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

“A specially designed fasting diet has been shown to be effective in helping people to lower their risk of major diseases.“

For 71 adults who were placed on three cycles of the low-calorie diet, it was shown to minimise cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure and signs of inflammation, as well as helping to regulate glucose and reducing levels of IGF-1, a hormone that affects metabolism.

The diet also helped to encourage weight loss, cutting total body fat and trunk fat without negatively affecting muscle mass. As such, the study participants' risks for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other age-related conditions were all reduced.

Valter Longo, director of the University of Southern California Longevity Institute, said: "Prior studies have indicated a range of health benefits in mice, but this is the first randomised clinical trial with enough participants to demonstrate that the diet is feasible, effective and safe for humans."

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