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.