Following a ‘fasting-like’ diet five days a month reverses biological age by two and a half years

Sophia Wesley
Sophia Wesley
3 Min Read

Following a “fasting-like” diet for just five days a month reverses biological age by two and a half years, scientists have shown.

The University of Southern California (USC) developed a diet that mimics fasting but ensures adherents get sufficient nutrients.

It involves consuming plant-based soups, energy bars and drinks, dried snacks, tea and supplements for five days, before switching back to a normal diet for the next 25 days.

It has already been shown to promote stem cell regeneration and reduce signs of dementia in animals, but now researchers have shown it reverses biological ageing in humans – making cells and tissues act as they would in a younger body.

In tests on 100 participants, who followed the regime for three or four months, analysis of blood samples showed they had a more youthful immune system, and had reversed their biological age by two and a half years.

“This is the first study to show that a food-based intervention that does not require chronic dietary or other lifestyle changes can make people biologically younger, based on both changes in risk factors for ageing and disease,” said Prof Valter Longo, of USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

“Although many doctors are already recommending the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) in the United States and Europe, these findings should encourage many more healthcare professionals to recommend cycles to patients with higher-than-desired levels of disease risk factors as well as to the general population that may be interested in increased function and younger age.”

Necessary nutrients

The FMD diet is high in unsaturated fats and low in overall calories, protein, and carbohydrates and is designed to mimic the effects of a water-only fast while still providing necessary nutrients and making it much easier for people to complete.

Analysis of the trial participants also showed that they had lower diabetic risk factors, including less insulin resistance.

Magnetic resonance imaging also revealed a decrease in abdominal fat as well as fat within the liver.

Previous trials have shown the diet can also lessen the side-effects of chemotherapy as well as lowering the risk factors for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other age-related diseases in humans.

The researchers said the diet should be used as short-term periodic, achievable dietary intervention that can help people lessen their disease risk and improve their health without extensive lifestyle changes.

The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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