Intermittent fasting is known to help with weight loss, but it might also help you live longer, according to a new report.
Researchers from the National Institute on Aging, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Pennington Biomedical Research Center recently conducted a study, published in Cell Metabolism, to determine the link between fasting and mortality.
To do so, they randomly divided 292 male mice into two diet groups: one given low-fat, naturally sourced foods and the other given foods higher in protein and fiber. Each of the two groups was then split into three sub-groups. One had access to food 24 hours a day, the other ate 30 percent fewer calories daily than the first group, and the last one had access to food with the same amount of calories as the round-the-clock group once a day.
The scientists tracked the male mice's metabolic health through their lifespans and examined them post-mortem.
After analyzing the results, they found increasing time between meals made mice healthier overall, compared to mice who ate more frequently. It also extended their lifespan.
Furthermore, they said health and longevity improved with increased fasting time no matter what the mice ate or how many calories they consumed.
“This study showed that mice who ate one meal per day, and thus had the longest fasting period, seemed to have a longer lifespan and better outcomes for common age-related liver disease and metabolic disorders,” coauthor Richard J. Hodes said in a statement. “These intriguing results in an animal model show that the interplay of total caloric intake and the length of feeding and fasting periods deserves a closer look.”
While the researchers do not fully understand why fasting is associated with longevity, they hypothesize that “extended daily fasting period enables repair and maintenance mechanisms that would be absent in a continuous exposure to food.”
The analysts now hope to continue their investigations with other strains of mice to explore how time-restricted eating patterns might help humans to maintain their health.