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Recent Study Reveals
Health Benefits of Fasting

The April 29, 2003 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that periodic fasting may have the same health benefits as a 40-percent calorie reduction from the diet, even if the effects of fasting do not lower the overall calorie intake of the subject. Researcher Mark Mattson of the National Institute of Aging hopes the findings in mice will hold true for studies on humans.

The health benefits observed by the researchers included longer health span, reduced levels of stress, and decreased levels of blood sugar and insulin. Mattson reflects on the significance of the results, ‘Overeating is a big problem now in this country. It’s particularly troublesome that a lot of children are overweight.’ Whereas a lot of attention has focused on quantity of calorie intake, this study examines how these calories are consumed. ‘Our study suggests that skipping meals is not bad for you,’ Mattson claims. Other benefits of periodic fasting include reduced risk of diabetes and increased tolerance to nerve damage in the brain similar to Alzheimer’s disease, according to the research.

Mattson concludes that the act of fasting puts stress on the body, and the body responds by increasing its ability to handle more severe stress. ‘It’s sort of analogous to physical effects of exercise on muscle cells,’ according to Mattson.