Health, Life

Daily 18-hour fasting can help you live longer: study

Researchers say intermittent fasting diet can affect the way body burns and stores fat and energy

James Reinl   | 26.12.2019
Daily 18-hour fasting can help you live longer: study

SAN DIEGO

Researchers are touting a diet that involves fasting for 18 hours each day as a way to stop getting overweight and reducing the chances of contracting everything from cancer to diabetes and heart disease.

The technique, called “intermittent fasting” (IF) involves eating during a six-hour period of the day and then abstaining for the remaining 18 hours as a way to change the way the body burns food and stores energy.

A study of past animal and human studies published on Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine, called Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease, says the diet effectively hacks the human metabolism.

“Evidence is accumulating that eating in a six-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases,” says the study.

In the report, authors Mark Mattson and Rafael de Cabo analyze two types of intermittent fasting to help physicians prescribe dieting as a way patients can tackle obesity and prevent a range of killer diseases.

One format, daily time-restricted feeding, involves eating 6-8 hours daily and fasting for the remaining 16-18 hours. The other, intermittent fasting, involves eating normally for five days of the week and consuming no more than 500 calories on the remaining two days.

It is not the first time that researchers have touted intermittent fasting as a panacea, including by Kate Harrison in her 2013 book called The 5:2 Diet: Feast for 5 Days, Fast for 2 Days to Lose Weight and Revitalize Your Health.

In a Harvard Medical School blog post last year, contributing editor Monique Tello noted intermittent fasting is “safe and incredibly effective” but added that it is “really no more effective than any other diet”.

“But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention,” wrote Tello.

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