Researchers say that a “fasting-mimicking diet” is a safe and effective way to reduce health risks and age-related diseases like cancer as well as possibly help the body make insulin, again.

For years now, researchers have seen how calorie restriction in mice has successfully caused them to live longer. They have also been shown to be metabolically healthier.

So researchers in this study sought to find out if fasting could help people, too. They looked at 71 people who either ate a fasting-mimicking diet for 5 days each month for 3 months or ate their normal way for 3 months and then switched the fasting schedule. The study authors state that a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) is low in calories, sugar, and protein but is high in unsaturated fats.

How Did a Fasting-Mimicking Diet Work?

They found that the fasting-like diet reduced body weight and body fat, lowered blood pressure, and decreased the IGF-1 hormone which is believed to lead to aging and disease.

A post hoc analysis was successful in replicating these positive results and showed that fasting lowered body mass index, glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and the inflammation marker–C-reactive protein.

The study authors stated in their abstract that “These effects were generally larger in the subjects who were at greater risk of disease at the start of the study. A larger study is needed to replicate these results, but they raise the possibility that fasting may be a practical road to a healthy metabolic system.”

Can Fasting Mimicking Diets Also Help Make Insulin Again?

We’ve long been advised to graze during the day, eating a little every two hours to keep our metabolism working efficiently. Science is increasingly showing however, that it may be more helpful to give our body longer breaks from food.

The same researchers from the study above conducted another study from the University of Southern California and also found that a fasting-mimicking diet seemed to reprogram pancreatic beta cells, causing them to secrete insulin, even in the case of type 1 diabetes and late-stage type 2 diabetes. It is important to note this particular part of this study was done using mice, not humans.

Valter Longo, the director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology told Science Daily that “Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells,” and that “By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, we were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients.”

The mice in the study regained insulin production, reduced insulin resistance, and showed more stable blood sugar levels. Damaged beta cells were simply replaced with new ones that worked.

What About Humans?

Longo and colleagues looked at pancreatic cell cultures from human donors and saw that, insulin production was accelerated indicating that perhaps a fasting-mimicking diet could help people with diabetes.

Longo explains that, “These findings warrant a larger FDA trial on the use of the fasting-mimicking diet to treat human diabetes patients to help them produce normal levels of insulin while improving insulin function,” and that “Hopefully, people with diabetes could one day be treated with an FDA-approved fasting-mimicking diet for a few days each month and gain control over their insulin production and blood sugar.”

Longo happens to be behind a product–a 5-day meal plan called ProLon which offers pre-packaged foods claimed to get you through 5 days of fasting based on his scientific evidence.

Photo Credit: iStock Photos

The post Fasting-Mimicking Diets Reduce Health Risks, Diseases, and Reactivate Insulin Cells? appeared first on Diabetes-Nachrichten.

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