Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 11th 2016 Contents A26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, March 11, 2016
How much---or how little---you eat could influence
how long you live.
The idea of caloric control improving your health,
and therefore your lifespan, is nothing new, but
researchers are now hoping to accurately determine the
type of diet that could make you live longer.
One team at the University of Southern California
(USC) are reducing the calorie count as low as it can
go, using specific foods to trick the human body into
thinking it s fasting---a process called fasting mimic-
"Diet can have a remarkable effect on you," says
Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology at USC Davis,
who has been long been researching the mechanisms
behind human aging and has recently turned his attention
"It can reprogramme your body and put it on a path
to live longer," says Longo.
Fasting has been performed by communities and
cultures for millennia and Longo s team are curious
about the advantages. Their idea follows on from the
long running trend of caloric restriction, mostly known
through diets such as the 5-2 diet and intermittent
fasting. Longo tested the impact of fasting for five con-
secutive days every month, believing that when the
body thinks it s in a state of fasting, it shuts down and
goes into standby mode.
"As cells are killed and the body goes into standby,
your stem cells switch on," says Longo. Once switched
on, the stem cells can regenerate the lost cells and organ
mass---leaving you shiny and new.
When cells in the body age, their ratios change and
Longo believes the body s reaction---and repair meth-
ods---to fasting help restore them to when you were
younger. "You re killing the bad cells and regenerating
with cells that are more functional."
In a 2015 study, Longo s team set a specific diet for
human volunteers, which mimicked the effects of fasting
over five consecutive days monthly, for three months.
Trials were also conducted in mice.
People consumed approximately 1,000 calories on
day one and 725 calories for the remaining four days,
but these numbers alone didn t determine the bene-
"It s not just about reducing calories", says Longo.
His diet is designed to include specific percentages of
protein, fat and carbohydrates, for maximum effect.
The food items used, however, were specific to the trial
and if translated to the public, would involve designing
meals made up of the right combination of nutrients.
"The human fasting mimicking diet (FMD) pro-
gramme is a plant-based diet programme designed to
attain fasting-like effects while providing micronutrient
nourishment (vitamins, minerals, etc) and minimise the
burden of fasting," Longo said in the study.
After three months, the benefits were a reduction in
body weight as well as certain risk factors for cardio-
vascular disease. There was also an increase in certain
stem cells in the body.
The team have since calculated that following the
diet every three months could provide enough of an
impact as effects are thought to last up to six months.
"When you fast, you lower protein and certain amino
acids and you control pathways (in the body)," says
Longo. The pathways he refers to are known as TOR,
PKA and IGF pathways, which when controlled can
switch on certain reactions inside the body causing
immune cells to die and organs to shrink.
This activation, or reduction, of pathways is why the
components of the diet, such a proteins, must also be
controlled. "You won t activate the correct pathways,"
According to Toribio-Mateas, the results confirm
earlier theories that "some hormone-like growth factors
that are required during development to grow, then
become promoting agents of aging after development
and sexual maturity have been reached". He also believes
the benefits are down to improved efficiency on a
Periodic fasting---every three or four months---may help your health.
Unlike the 5-2 diet, which requires two days of low
calories at any point in the week, Longo s diet involves
fasting for five consecutive days, which requires much
"Five days is safe: going on for longer is difficult to
do outside of a clinic," says Longo. (CNN)
Occasional fasting could
help you live longer
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
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