Can a Feast and Famine Diet Extend Life?

Fasting on feast and famine diet

Is increased longevity a result of fasting with a feast and famine type diet? One of the guests this week discussed weight loss at Structure House. This research follows.

A new study reported in the journal Rejuvenation Research concluded that intermittent fasting caused a slight increase to SIRT 3, a well known gene that promotes longevity and is involved in protective cell responses. The researchers say that fasting in mice has been shown to extend lifespan and improve related diseases but daily fasting would be hard to maintain. This lead to the idea of intermittent fasting. In the study researchers measured changes in weight, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, cholesterol, markers of inflammation and genes involved in protective cell responses of participants over a ten week period. On fasting days, participants ate food such as roast beef and gravy, mashed potatoes, Oreo cookies and orange sherbet but they ate only one meal. On feasting days, they ate bagels with cream cheese, oatmeal sweetened with honey and raisins, turkey sandwiches, apple-sauce, spaghetti with chicken, yogurt and soda–and lemon pound cake, Snicker bars, and vanilla ice cream.  Participants like the fasting days better and had trouble getting enough calories on the feasting days.

Twenty four participants were involved in the double-blind, randomized clinical trial. During a three week period subjects alternated one day of eating 25% of their daily calorie intake with one day of eating 175% of their daily caloric intake. For the average male, this would be 650 calories on fasting days and 4,550 calories on feasting days. To test antioxidant supplements, subjects received the diet but also included vitamin C and E. At the end of 3 weeks the health parameters identified above were tested. Researchers found the beneficial sirtuin proteins such as SIRT 3 and another, SIRT 1, increased as a result of the diet. When antioxidants were supplemented on top of the diet, however, some increases disappeared consistent with previous research indicating that flooding the system with antioxidant supplements may counteract the benefits of exercise and fasting.

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