Intermittent Fasting And Longevity – How Eating Less Increases Lifespan And Improves Health
The link between intermittent fasting and longevity has long been known. In addition to increasing lifespan, fasting improves our health overall. Fasting helps regulate metabolism, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and protects against age-related diseases. Fasting can also reduce our risk of certain types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Decades of research have shown that maintaining a daily calorie intake at levels of around 60-80% of normal has numerous health benefits and can help delay the onset of age-related diseases.1 This is due to the transient increase in cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, which in turn triggers a protective and adaptive response.2
SIRT1, an important histone deacetylase with significant impacts on cellular metabolism and aging, has been found to regulate genes that affect aging by increasing the expression of ROS-scavenging genes.3
Mitochondria are integral in this protective process, as they are the primary source of ROS, and the transcription factors within them are up-regulated by caloric restriction.4 Caloric restriction causes a short-term increase in oxidative stress, which ultimately leads to protective responses that shield cells from further ROS damage over time.
Intermittent Fasting And Longevity – Early Onset Caloric Restriction (EOCR)
Early onset caloric restriction (EOCR), a form of Intermittent Fasting, is a dietary strategy that has been shown to extend the lifespan in small mammals. Recent studies have demonstrated that restricting caloric intake on a circadian schedule may be even more effective than standard EOCR protocols at promoting longevity.
By delaying meals until after an animal’s normal time of food intake, scientists were able to reduce the amount of food consumed while still maintaining a healthy body weight. This technique of aligning caloric restriction with the animal’s natural circadian clock allowed the animals to benefit from the life-extending effects of calorie restriction without having to drastically cut their daily caloric intake.
Not only did this approach result in increased longevity, but the animals also stayed healthier throughout their lifespans. In particular, mice on a circadian-aligned EOCR regimen had lower levels of oxidative stress and preserved organ function compared to those on an unaltered diet. Additionally, they experienced fewer age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. This indicates that early-onset calorie restriction, when aligned with an organism’s internal circadian clock, is an effective strategy for promoting longevity and overall health.5
Intermittent Fasting And Longevity
Intermittent fasting has been linked to a decrease in overall mortality rates for individuals who have undergone cardiac catheterization. Studies have shown that routine Intermittent Fasting (IF) practiced for two-thirds of a lifespan has been linked to increased longevity. This is due to the fact that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative stress and improve metabolic health, which are two factors associated with longevity.6
Intermittent Fasting And Longevity – SIRT1 Gene
The SIRT1 gene has been linked to long-term survival in humans and other species. This gene encodes for an enzyme that helps regulate metabolism, stress response, and cell death. When this gene is activated by fasting, the body is better able to cope with stress, which may lead to extended periods of health and longevity.7
Intermittent Fasting And Cancer Risk
Sirtuins have been shown to play important roles in regulating cancer metabolism. Specifically, SIRT1 has been linked to the regulation of tumor suppressor proteins such as p53, suggesting a potential role for sirtuins in controlling cell proliferation and apoptosis. Sirtuins also play a role in the regulation of autophagy, which is linked to tumorigenesis. Thus, fasting-induced metabolic regulation of sirtuins may provide an effective means to reduce the risk of cancer.7
Intermittent Fasting And Longevity – PLA2G7 Enzyme
The PLA2G7 enzyme is modified by calorie restriction. PLA2G7 is involved in the breakdown of phospholipids, a type of fat molecule. This enzyme has been shown to be upregulated in animals that are subjected to calorie restriction. Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that increasing levels of this enzyme can lead to an increase in lifespan and improved healthspan.
Additionally, PLA2G7 has been linked to increased levels of autophagy, a cellular process that helps to clear away damaged cells and maintain healthy tissues. It also plays a role in protecting against age-related diseases and disorders. Finally, studies have suggested that PLA2G7 may be involved in the regulation of inflammation, which could help protect against chronic diseases.8
Intermittent Fasting And Diabetes
In people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes mellitus, intermittent fasting can lead to a reduction in the risk of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is caused by an abnormally low level of glucose in the blood due to a lack of food or insulin and can have serious health implications if not managed appropriately.
Studies have shown that when individuals adopt an intermittent fasting protocol, they can experience reductions in blood glucose levels and a decrease in the risk of hypoglycemia. Intermittent fasting has also been linked to improved glycemic control, increased insulin sensitivity, and decreased body fat percentage.9
Recent studies have found that IF can maintain and preserve β-cell mass in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, independent of weight loss. It does this by activating autophagy-lysosome pathways, a process in which cells break down and recycle their own damaged components to maintain healthy functioning. Autophagy-lysosome pathways are essential for the maintenance of β-cell mass as well as for glucose homeostasis.10
Read more about diabetes.
Intermittent Fasting And Longevity – Gut Microbiome Improvements
Obese mice on an intermittent fasting diet exhibited improved lipid metabolism than those given a normal diet. This improvement was mainly due to changes in the gut microbiota. In other words, fasting improves gut microbiome biodiversity. While fasting, changes in the gut microbiome can be detected within a few days. During this time period, short-chain fatty acid production increases while Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes populations decrease.11
Read more about losing fat.
Intermittent Fasting And Inflammation
Intermittent fasting can lead to reductions in adipose tissue inflammation, which is associated with metabolic health. In a recent study, researchers examined the effects of intermittent fasting on markers of adipose tissue inflammation in overweight and obese women. The results showed that there were transient increases in some markers of adipose tissue inflammation during the period of intermittent fasting.
In addition to the transient increases in adipose tissue inflammation markers observed during intermittent fasting, there were also decreases in some inflammatory cytokines. Inflammatory cytokines are molecules that help regulate an individual’s immune system and can be linked to various diseases and health conditions. In particular, the study found that there were reductions in Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α).12
Read more about inflammation.
Intermittent Fasting Reduces The Risk Of Stroke
Inflammasomes are complexes of proteins that form within cells in response to certain cellular stressors, leading to inflammation and cell death. When these complexes are activated, they can cause damage to the brain tissue and impair recovery from stroke. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammasome activity in ischemic stroke. This suggests that IF can be beneficial for those recovering from a stroke, as it can help to reduce the risk of further damage.13
Intermittent Fasting Protects The Brain
IF supports the development of new neurons within certain areas of the hippocampus portion of the brain. Specifically, IF increases levels of neurotrophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF is important for the survival of neurons and modulates neuronal plasticity required for the formation of new memories and learning.
In combination, these results suggest that IF may be a beneficial intervention for maintaining healthy brain function. Additionally, research has indicated that IF could help reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It is thought this could occur due to the protective effects of BDNF and neurogenesis, both of which have been linked with improved cognitive function.14
Intermittent Fasting And Autophagy
Intermittent fasting has been found to induce autophagy, a process by which cells break down and recycle their own components. This helps to protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can also contribute to stroke recovery.
The benefits of intermittent fasting on ischemic stroke recovery may extend beyond reducing inflammasome activity and inducing autophagy. Intermittent fasting has also been shown to improve metabolic health, which can help reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events such as stroke.15
Fasting And Refeeding
Refeeding is just as important as fasting. Refeeding helps replenish the energy stores that were depleted during fasting and restore the body to a healthy, balanced state. It is important to consume nutrient-dense, whole foods when refeeding after periods of fasting so your body can get the vital vitamins and minerals it needs to function optimally.
Refeeding should be done gradually and in small portions, as eating large meals at once may lead to digestive discomfort. With careful planning and mindful eating, you can ensure that your refeeding period is just as successful as your fasting period. Ultimately, the goal of a fasting-refeeding cycle is to maintain balance for optimal health.
Ideally, follow a diet like my Cellular Healing Diet.
Intermittent Fasting and Longevity
The connection between intermittent fasting and longevity has been studied and discussed extensively. The evidence makes it clear that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan. Additionally, there are a number of potential benefits associated with fasting including improved metabolic health, increased autophagy, and reduced inflammation.
Read more about the benefits of fasting.
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2 Ristow M, Schmeisser S. Extending life span by increasing oxidative stress. Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Jul 15;51(2):327-36. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.05.010. Epub 2011 May 14. PMID: 21619928.
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5 Acosta-Rodríguez V, Rijo-Ferreira F, Izumo M, Xu P, Wight-Carter M, Green CB, Takahashi JS. Circadian alignment of early onset caloric restriction promotes longevity in male C57BL/6J mice. Science. 2022 Jun 10;376(6598):1192-1202. doi: 10.1126/science.abk0297. Epub 2022 May 5. PMID: 35511946; PMCID: PMC9262309.
6 Gal Tsaban, Routine periodic fasting reduces all-cause mortality and heart failure incidence: new insights on old habits, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Volume 28, Issue 16, December 2021, Pages 1782–1783, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjpc/zwaa057
7 Zhu Y, Yan Y, Gius DR, Vassilopoulos A. Metabolic regulation of Sirtuins upon fasting and the implication for cancer. Curr Opin Oncol. 2013 Nov;25(6):630-6. doi: 10.1097/01.cco.0000432527.49984.a3. PMID: 24048020; PMCID: PMC5525320.
8 Spadaro O, Youm Y, Shchukina I, Ryu S, Sidorov S, Ravussin A, Nguyen K, Aladyeva E, Predeus AN, Smith SR, Ravussin E, Galban C, Artyomov MN, Dixit VD. Caloric restriction in humans reveals immunometabolic regulators of health span. Science. 2022 Feb 11;375(6581):671-677. doi: 10.1126/science.abg7292. Epub 2022 Feb 10. PMID: 35143297; PMCID: PMC10061495.
9 Corley BT, Carroll RW, Hall RM, Weatherall M, Parry-Strong A, Krebs JD. Intermittent fasting in Type 2 diabetes mellitus and the risk of hypoglycaemia: a randomized controlled trial. Diabet Med. 2018 May;35(5):588-594. doi: 10.1111/dme.13595. Epub 2018 Feb 27. PMID: 29405359.
10 Liu H, Javaheri A, Godar RJ, Murphy J, Ma X, Rohatgi N, Mahadevan J, Hyrc K, Saftig P, Marshall C, McDaniel ML, Remedi MS, Razani B, Urano F, Diwan A. Intermittent fasting preserves beta-cell mass in obesity-induced diabetes via the autophagy-lysosome pathway. Autophagy. 2017;13(11):1952-1968. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2017.1368596. Epub 2017 Nov 25. PMID: 28853981; PMCID: PMC5788488.
11 Deng Y, Liu W, Wang J, Yu J, Yang LQ. Intermittent Fasting Improves Lipid Metabolism Through Changes in Gut Microbiota in Diet-Induced Obese Mice. Med Sci Monit. 2020 Nov 23;26:e926789. doi: 10.12659/MSM.926789. PMID: 33223514; PMCID: PMC7693779.
12 Liu B, Hutchison AT, Thompson CH, Lange K, Heilbronn LK. Markers of adipose tissue inflammation are transiently elevated during intermittent fasting in women who are overweight or obese. Obes Res Clin Pract. 2019 Jul-Aug;13(4):408-415. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2019.07.001. Epub 2019 Jul 11. PMID: 31302012.
13 Fann DY, Santro T, Manzanero S, Widiapradja A, Cheng YL, Lee SY, Chunduri P, Jo DG, Stranahan AM, Mattson MP, Arumugam TV. Intermittent fasting attenuates inflammasome activity in ischemic stroke. Exp Neurol. 2014 Jul;257:114-9. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2014.04.017. Epub 2014 May 5. PMID: 24805069.
14 Baik SH, Rajeev V, Fann DY, Jo DG, Arumugam TV. Intermittent fasting increases adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Brain Behav. 2020 Jan;10(1):e01444. doi: 10.1002/brb3.1444. Epub 2019 Dec 5. PMID: 31804775; PMCID: PMC6955834.
15 Jamshed H, Beyl RA, Della Manna DL, Yang ES, Ravussin E, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves 24-Hour Glucose Levels and Affects Markers of the Circadian Clock, Aging, and Autophagy in Humans. Nutrients. 2019 May 30;11(6):1234. doi: 10.3390/nu11061234. PMID: 31151228; PMCID: PMC6627766.