NEJM Review Article “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging and Disease” Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D. and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D.
N Engl J Med 381;26 NEJM.ORG December 26, 2019
Since the 1980s, rodent studies have defined the benefits of caloric restriction on increasing life span ranging from “14-45% in rates but only 4-27% in mice”. Caloric restriction studies in monkeys are few but show “clear improvements in overall health” but “the link between health-span extension and life-span expansion” is unclear. In humans, fasting beyond the impact of reducing calories alone, improves insulin sensitivity, lipids, inflammation, high blood pressure and obesity. These changes may positively impact, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, autoimmune disease and tissue injury. Potential “prescriptions” to leverage the benefits of intermittent fasting would be incrementally applied ranging from “Time-Restricted Feeding” to “Intermittent Fasting”. The authors share some practical considerations; we are accustomed to three meals and day plus snacks, fasting may cause at the start of the regimen “hunger, irritability and a reduced ability to concentrate during periods of food restriction” and “most physicians are not trained to prescribe…these interventions”. If you are interested the paper discusses in some detail the biochemical and cellular mechanisms responsible for health improvements. Ultimately, pharmaceuticals targeting these mechanisms are being investigated but may not be as effective as intermittent fasting. Paper at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1905136