July 17, 2024

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Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?

Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?

Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?

Intermittent fasting, a dietary approach involving alternating between periods of eating and fasting, is increasingly supported by evidence for its effectiveness in preventing various diseases, including diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions.

There are several different intermittent fasting protocols, with common ones being the 16:8 fasting method (16 hours of fasting, followed by an 8-hour eating window) and the 12:12 fasting method. While intermittent fasting is beneficial for health, the optimal duration of fasting periods remains a subject of ongoing research.

A team led by Li Guolin at Hunan Normal University published a research paper titled “Circadian transcriptional pathway atlas highlights a proteasome switch in intermittent fasting” in the journal Cell Reports.

This study revealed that fasting for 16 hours represents a crucial checkpoint that triggers rhythmic resonance and activates proteasomes in the liver through 43 classical pathways.

It identified the liver proteasome as a potential “timer” for fasting, providing a significant target for exploring the mechanisms underlying the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?




Unveiling the Secrets Behind Intermittent Fasting

Despite the documented health benefits of intermittent fasting, the varied fasting schedules used in different laboratories highlight the challenge of pinpointing the exact timing within which organisms exhibit significant responses to fasting, i.e., how long fasting should be to maximize its health benefits.

To unravel the secrets behind intermittent fasting, the research team constructed a diurnal transcription pathway atlas for up to 600 mouse metabolic tissue samples across five feeding regimens, including vital organs like the liver, muscles, white fat, and brown fat. This comprehensive dataset provided critical insights into the field of intermittent fasting research.

The study anchored temporal transcriptional pathway profiles within mouse metabolic tissues over a 24-hour period. Results showed that 95.6% of the detected classical pathways exhibited tissue-specific and feeding regimen-specific rhythmic changes, with fewer than 25% of pathways inducing transcriptional changes throughout the entire day.

Furthermore, the researchers found that fasting for 16 hours triggered significant switching effects in many classical pathways in the liver, an effect not observed in other metabolic tissues. Once this effect was initiated, troughs and peaks of activity occurred consistently during subsequent periods of eating and fasting.

Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?



Liver Proteasomes as Targets for Intermittent Fasting

What are the targets controlling multiple classical pathways during intermittent fasting? The research team delved into this question and discovered that all these pathways shared genes encoding subunits of liver proteasomes, indicating that proteasomes coordinate pathway switching.

Moreover, nearly all of these genes exhibited fasting-dependent transcriptional switches similar to those seen in the pathways mentioned above. This implies that fasting for 16 hours can awaken liver-specific cytoplasmic quality controllers (proteasomes), suggesting that liver proteasomes are likely to serve as fasting timers that coordinate the switching of these classical pathways.

While these data do not directly demonstrate that fasting-induced classical pathway switching effects originate from classical pathway switching effects within proteasomes, the high synchronization between these pathways and gene transcription switches suggests a close connection.

Given that proteasomes are crucial components of the cellular quality control system, and there is existing evidence that fasting enhances proteasome function and activates intracellular protein optimization mechanisms, modulating the proteasome coordination pathway through fasting and refeeding suggests that intermittent fasting may benefit from improved cellular quality control system function.


Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?


In summary, this study established a temporal transcriptional atlas of classical pathways under five feeding regimens and identified liver proteasomes as potential timers for intermittent fasting, triggering switching effects in classical pathways with a 16-hour fast. This discovery may contribute to the health benefits of intermittent fasting.



Additional Reading

However, in different intermittent fasting protocols, not only the duration of fasting needs to be controlled but also the timing of eating.

On September 28, 2021, a team led by Mimi Shirasu-Hiza at Columbia University published a research paper titled “Circadian autophagy drives iTRF-mediated longevity” in the journal Nature. This study introduced an intermittent time-restricted feeding (iTRF) regimen that significantly extended the lifespan of fruit flies, delayed the appearance of aging markers in muscles and intestines, and promoted longevity. Importantly, iTRF-mediated lifespan extension depended on a functional circadian clock.

In other words, the timing of fasting is crucial, with only nighttime fasting resulting in extended lifespans for fruit flies, while those fasting during the day with nighttime eating showed no change in lifespan.

Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?



These studies collectively reveal potential mechanisms underlying the health benefits of intermittent fasting and provide a theoretical foundation for establishing safer and more effective intermittent fasting protocols.




Is 16-Hour Intermittent Fasting Beneficial for Health?


1. Circadian transcriptional pathway atlas highlights a proteasome switch in intermittent fasting.Cell(2022). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2022.111547
2. Ulgherait M, Midoun AM, Park SJ, et al. Circadian autophagy drives iTRF-mediated longevity. Nature. 2021;598(7880):353-358. doi:10.1038/s41586-021-03934-0(source:internet, reference only)

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