Studies in mice involving fasting have shown to extend lifespan and improve age-related diseases.
“We found that intermittent fasting caused a slight increase in SIRT3, a well-known gene that promotes longevity and is involved in protective cell responses,” said Michael Guo, a student at Harvard Medical School.
Pivotal to the study was the SIRT3 gene, responsible for encoding a protein also called SIRT3 which belongs to a class of proteins known as sirtuins. In experiments involving mice, increased levels of sirtuins led to an extension of lifespans.
“The hypothesis is that if the body is intermittently exposed to low levels of oxidative stress, it can build a better response to it.”
The intermittent fasting also decreases insulin levels in the participants, meaning the diet could have an anti-diabetic effect as well.
In the study, researchers recruited 24 participants for the clinical trial.
The participants alternated one day of eating 25 percent of their daily caloric intake with one day of eating 175 percent of their daily caloric intake during a three-week period.
Further, participants repeated the diet but also included vitamin C and vitamin E to test antioxidant supplements.
The beneficial sirtuin proteins such as SIRT3 and SIRT1, tended to increase as a result of the diet, but when antioxidants were supplemented on top of the diet, some of these increases disappeared.
The study appeared in the journal Rejuvenation Research.