6th March 2020

New research confirms positive health effects of intermittent fasting

The results are in: Professor Mark Mattson pulls together all the most recent research on the effect that intermittent fasting has on human health, aging and disease.

Professor Mark Mattson Ph.d. is a neuroscientist that many of you may be aware of from The Fast 800 book. His work at the National Institute of Aging has revolutionised the scientific foundations of research on intermittent fasting.

His latest research article Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concludes that intermittent fasting provides numerous benefits for many health conditions including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and neurological disorders.

The fast overview of why intermittent fasting works

We referred to the encouraging interim data of some of his work on page 58 of The Fast 800 – so I am thrilled to be able to share the findings of the latest research with you now.

Positive impacts of intermittent fasting:

Improved cognitive and neurological function 

We already know the 5:2 Diet can delay the onset of dementiaMattson’s latest paper goes on to identify the positive correlation between a calorie restricted diet and verbal memory, improved global cognition and executive function.  

Fasting releases ketones, which become fuel for your brain

How does this happen? It seems to be all about the ketones. Ketones are produced by the liver when you ‘flip the metabolic switch’1 – the stage where your body goes form burning sugar to burning fat for fuelThe brain thrives off ketones as a source of fuel 

Reversing a diagnosis of prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes

Mattson’s new paper goes into the clinical applications of intermittent fasting on a number of chronic and lifestyle diseases.  

This additional research on the positive effects of calorie-restriction or 4:3 intermittent fasting (24-hour fasting three times a week) showed reverse insulin resistance in case-studies with type 2 diabetes or a prediabetic diagnosis. 

Improves resistance to stress

Intermittent fasting increases our resistance to stress on both a psychological and biological level. It can be difficult, particularly when you first start, but the same is true of exercise.  

Reduces inflammation

Taking up intermittent fasting, and learning how to ‘flip the metabolic switch’ leads to increased insulin sensitivity, reduced abdominal fat, reduced blood pressure and reduced inflammation.  

The Med Style diet also helps. It boost levels of “good” bacteria in your gut, and they in turn produces chemicals (known as short chain fatty acids) that reduce inflammation, not only in the gut but throughout the whole body.

Fasting forward to the findings: better overall health

Professor Mark Mattson’s review of decades of animal and human-based studies shows just how important intermittent fasting is for overall health. Improved memory, decreased inflammation, lengthened life-expectancy and weight loss are just a few of the benefits he listsIntermittent fasting is proven to help with weight loss, improve glucose regulation, blood pressure, heart rate, and abdominal fat loss. 

Dr Mattson’s study in the New England Journal can be viewed here.

  1. Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, et al. Flipping the metabolic switch: understanding and applying the health benefits of fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring) 2018; 26: 254-68. Available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29086496

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