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‘Fasting-mimicking' diet offers same benefits of fasting while you continue to eat

Periodic cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) offer remarkable health benefits, including a reduction in immune system aging, insulin resistance, and liver fat.

This innovative dietary approach not only contributes to a lower biological age but also opens a new frontier in nutrition-based health intervention.

The study, led by the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, builds upon existing research to underscore the significant advantages of FMD.

Fasting-mimicking diet: A scientific breakthrough

The fasting-mimicking diet, lasting five days, is rich in unsaturated fats while being low in calories, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Designed to emulate the effects of a traditional water fast without foregoing essential nutrients, FMD facilitates adherence and completion of the fasting period.

The brainchild of Professor Valter Longo of the USC Leonard Davis School, this diet strategy has now been validated for its efficacy in human health improvement.

Professor Longo, the senior author of the study, emphasizes the novelty of FMD as a food-based intervention that does not necessitate ongoing dietary or lifestyle modifications.

“This is the first study to show that a food-based intervention that does not require chronic dietary or other lifestyle changes can make people biologically younger, based on both changes in risk factors for aging and disease and on a validated method developed by the Levine group to assess biological age,” Longo explained.

Multifaceted benefits of fasting-mimicking diet

Historical research by Longo’s team has documented the diverse benefits of short, periodic FMD cycles, including stem cell regeneration, reduced chemotherapy side effects, and diminished signs of dementia in animal models.

Furthermore, FMD has shown promise in lowering the risk factors for various age-related diseases in humans, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

This recent study ventured into previously unexplored territory, investigating the impact of FMD on aging, biological age, liver fat, and immune system aging in humans.

Conducted on two clinical trial populations ranging in age from 18 to 70, the study required participants to follow the FMD for five days, followed by a standard diet for the remainder of the month.

The diet consists of plant-based soups, energy bars, drinks, snacks, tea, and a supplement rich in essential nutrients.

Impact on overall health, aging and disease

The findings were compelling. Participants adhering to the FMD showcased significant health improvements, including lower diabetes risk factors such as reduced insulin resistance and HbA1c levels.

MRI scans further confirmed reductions in abdominal and liver fat, indicators of a decreased risk for metabolic syndrome. Notably, the FMD cycles enhanced the lymphoid-to-myeloid ratio, suggesting a rejuvenated immune system.

A comprehensive analysis revealed that, on average, participants experienced a reduction in biological age by 2.5 years, underscoring the diet’s potential for age reversal.

“This study shows for the first time evidence for biological age reduction from two different clinical trials, accompanied by evidence of rejuvenation of metabolic and immune function,” Longo adds.

FMD’s place in future healthcare

The collaboration between first authors Sebastian Brandhorst, USC Leonard Davis research associate professor, and Morgan E. Levine, founding principal investigator of Altos Labs and USC Leonard Davis PhD alumna, further solidifies the FMD’s standing as a viable, short-term dietary intervention.

This approach not only mitigates disease risk but also enhances overall health without the need for extensive lifestyle alterations.

Professor Longo concludes with a call to action for healthcare professionals, encouraging the broader recommendation of FMD cycles to patients at risk and the general population eager for improved health and vitality.

“Although many doctors are already recommending the FMD in the United States and Europe, these findings should encourage many more healthcare professionals to recommend FMD cycles to patients with higher than desired levels of disease risk factors as well as to the general population that may be interested in increased function and younger age,” Longo said.

Fasting-mimicking diet: A new era in nutrition

In summary, the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) emerges as a revolutionary approach in the quest for longevity and health enhancement, offering a scientifically validated pathway to reduce biological age and mitigate risk factors associated with chronic diseases.

Grounded in rigorous research and clinical trials, FMD paves the way for a future where dietary intervention becomes a cornerstone of preventive healthcare.

By demonstrating significant improvements in immune system function, metabolic health, and overall vitality, FMD empowers individuals to take proactive steps towards achieving a healthier, more vibrant life without the need for drastic lifestyle changes.

As the evidence mounts, the call for healthcare professionals to embrace and recommend FMD grows louder, heralding a new era in nutrition and wellness.

The full study was published in the journal Nature Communications.


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