Fasting — with limits — may be linked to longer life, less disease, researchers say

Periods of fasting could be one way to sidestep some chronic illnesses such as diabetes, and add years to one's life. Meanwhile, consecutive daily fasting supplemented with antioxidants could actually hinder those perceived benefits, University of Florida researchers said Friday.

In their study published in the journal Rejuvenation Research, the group 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, Harvard Medical School doctoral candidate Michael Guo said. Such fasting also was found to lower insulin levels.

The double-blind study involved 24 people in a randomized clinical trial. Over three weeks, the participants rotated daily eating high- and low-calorie meals. The high-caloric, or “feasting days,” involved 175% of their daily recommended intake, while the low-caloric, or fasting days, stripped down meals to only 25% of their daily recommended intake. Vitamins C and E were used to test antioxidant effects.

Results were derived from measuring changes in weight, blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, cholesterol, markers of inflammation and genes involved in protective cell responses over 10 weeks, according to the report.