May 25, 2024

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NEJM: Intermittent diet is good for health

NEJM: Intermittent diet is good for health and alleviate many diseases

NEJM: Intermittent diet is good for health. At the beginning of the new year, have you made a 2021 annual plan for yourself? Did you put weight loss and other plans in the first place? After all, health is the fundamental guarantee for the quality of life. Losing weight, or maintaining weight, is the main theme of maintaining health.

It’s time to stop and give our stomachs a break. Intermittent fasting may be a good way to restore your health.



1 Overview of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (also known as light fasting) seems to have become the new favorite of the slimming world. This method is believed to not only lose weight, increase energy, and even prolong life. But is there sufficient scientific evidence to support these effects?

Not long ago, the top international medical journal “New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published a review article. Professor Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States, has come to a new conclusion: Intermittent fasting is indeed effective and can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

NEJM: Intermittent diet is good for health


2 Intermittent fasting and anti-stress ability

As early as 25 years ago, Mattson began research on the health effects of intermittent fasting, and personally adopted this method 20 years ago. His new research aims to clarify the scientific principles and clinical applications of intermittent fasting, so as to help doctors guide patients who want to try intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is usually divided into two categories: one is to eat at a limited time every day, that is, to narrow the eating period to 6 to 8 hours; the other is the so-called “5:2 intermittent fasting”, that is, 7 days a week. Eat only a moderate meal on two days of the day.

Animal studies and human studies have shown that the alternation between fasting and eating contributes to cell health, possibly by triggering a metabolic transformation, an ancient adaptation method for coping with food shortages. This conversion occurs when cells are exhausted to quickly obtain sugar-based energy reserves and begin to convert fat into energy in a slower metabolic process.


Figure 1. Cell response to calorie restriction

Mattson said: “Studies have shown that this conversion improves blood sugar regulation, enhances resistance to stress, and suppresses inflammation. Because most people now eat three meals a day plus extra snacks, they don’t have the opportunity to experience it. With this kind of metabolic conversion, it is impossible to realize the benefits of metabolic conversion.”

Figure 2. The body’s metabolic adaptation to intermittent fasting

Mattson pointed out in the article that four studies conducted on animals and humans found that intermittent fasting can also reduce blood pressure, blood lipids, and resting heart rate.

Mattson said: “There is growing evidence that intermittent fasting can improve risk factors related to obesity and diabetes.”

Two studies conducted by the NHS Trust of the University of South Manchester in the United Kingdom on 100 overweight women showed that women who used a 5:2 intermittent fasting method to lose weight lost the same weight as women who restricted calorie intake, but improved In terms of insulin sensitivity and reducing abdominal fat, intermittent fasting is more effective than reducing calorie intake.

3 The effect of intermittent fasting on the body and cognition

Recent preliminary studies have shown that intermittent fasting is also beneficial to brain health. A multi-center clinical trial conducted by the University of Toronto in April last year found that 220 healthy, non-obese adults who adhered to a calorie restriction diet within two years showed signs of memory improvement in a series of cognitive tests.

Mattson said that although more research is needed to prove the effects of intermittent fasting on learning and memory, if such evidence is found, then fasting, or drugs that mimic the effects of fasting, may provide the prevention of neurodegeneration. And new interventions for dementia.

He said: “We are at a turning point, and we may soon consider adding information about intermittent fasting to our medical school curriculum, as well as standard recommendations for healthy eating and exercise.”

Mattson admits that researchers do not fully understand the specific mechanisms of metabolic conversion, and that some people are unable or unwilling to adhere to a fasting regimen. But he believes that under patient guidance, most people can integrate it into their lives. The body needs some time to adapt to intermittent fasting to get rid of the initial hunger and irritability.

Mattson said: “We should inform patients that it is common to feel hungry and irritable at the beginning of fasting, and it usually disappears two weeks to one month after the body and brain get used to the new habits.”

In order to overcome this obstacle, Mattson believes that doctors should advise patients to gradually increase the duration and frequency of fasting over the course of several months, so as not to give up because of the pain of being unable to endure fasting.

Mattson said: “Like all lifestyle changes, it is important for doctors to understand science so that they can communicate the potential benefits, hazards and challenges and provide support.”

Preclinical studies and clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting has broad benefits for many diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological diseases. Animal models show that lifelong intermittent fasting can improve health, while most of the interventions in clinical studies last relatively short, usually several months. Whether people can persist intermittent fasting for many years is not yet determined, but benefits have been observed in animal models.

In addition, clinical studies mainly focus on overweight young and middle-aged people, so we cannot extend the benefits and safety of intermittent fasting observed in these studies to people of other ages.


(source:internet, reference only)

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