Intermittent fasting, effective against aging?

As its name suggests, the intermittent fasting is a method that alternates periods of fasting and feeding. It favors the weightloss by concentrating the intake in a specific part of the day, but experts warn that it cannot be considered a diet as such.

Voluntary intermittent fasting presents different formulas, according to the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN):

Daily periodicity: at least 12 hours of fasting, the best known pattern being 8/16, that is, fasting 16 hours in which 8 hours of sleep are included. The most common feeding window is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Weekly periodicity: one or two days a week. The most popular is the 5/2 diet, eating normal five days a week, accompanied by a severe reduction in intake the next two days.

Monthly periodicity: fast a couple of days in a row every month. Less frequent.

Intermittent fasting against aging

Now, new research from Columbia University (USA) on fruit flies has revealed how intermittent fasting works inside cells to slow down the aging process and points to possible ways to reap the health benefits of fasting without starving, according to its authors in the journal Nature.

But for those who want to adopt intermittent fasting to slow down the aging process, there is a trap, the researchers warn. In modern society, people are used to eating three meals a day, and intermittent fasting is difficult.

Food restriction and caloric intake

Intermittent fasting and restricted eating generally limit food, but not total caloric intake, at certain times of the day. Instead, the food restriction, which has also been shown to increase longevity, reduces caloric intake.

“Since intermittent fasting restricts meal timing, it has been hypothesized that natural biological clocks play an important role,” explains Dr. Mimi Shirasu-Hiza, associate professor of genetics and development at the College of Physicians and Physicians. Vagelos surgeons at Columbia University and an expert on circadian rhythms, who led the study.

Extend shelf life

Shirasu-Hiza and Dr. Matt Ulgherait, a research associate in their lab, turned to fruit flies to investigate this question. The reason, fruit flies have biological clocks similar to those of humans, remaining active during the day and sleeping at night, in addition to sharing approximately 70% of the genes related to human diseases.

The researchers subjected their flies to one of the four different programs: 24 hours of unrestricted access to food, 12 hours of daytime access to food, 24 hours of fasting followed by 24 hours of unrestricted feeding, or what the researchers called time-restricted intermittent fasting or iTRF (20 hours fasting followed by a recovery day with unlimited feeding).

Among the four feeding programs, only iTRF significantly extended lifespan: 18% for women and 13% for men.

The 20 hour fast it was the critical moment. Life expectancy was only increased in flies that fasted at night and broke the fast at mealtime. The life of the flies that fasted all day and ate only at night did not change.

Autophagy Cell Cleaning

For the researchers, the key was in the weather. They found that a cellular cleansing process occurs after fasting, but only when fasting occurs overnight. Scientists call this cell cleaning process autophagy and this process is known to slow aging by cleaning and recycling damaged cell components.

“We found that the benefits of iTRF for prolonging life require a functional circadian rhythm and autophagy components. When either of these processes was interrupted, the diet had no effect on the longevity of the animals,” says Shirasu-Hiza, in statements collected by Europa Press.

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