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Regular Fasting May Lead to Longer Life

Study of calorie-restricted mice shows promise for adjustments in human food-consumption patterns 

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Looking to live longer? You might want to expand the time between your meals.

A recent study of mice found that those whose diets were restricted to once a day on average lived longer and were generally healthier than mice that had access to food 24 hours a day.

Researchers say that the results of the study, published in the medical journal Cell Metabolism and conducted by scientists from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), ought to generate further investigation about the effect of eating intervals on humans.

“These intriguing results in an animal model show that the interplay of total caloric intake and the length of feeding and fasting periods deserves a closer look,” said Richard J. Hodes, M.D., the director of the NIA.

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Besides having longer lives, the mice who fasted experienced “delays in common age-related damage to the liver and other organs [and] significant improvement in fasting glucose and insulin levels,” the NIA reported. In addition, the type of food they ate “had no significant impact” on life span among the mice whose diets were restricted.

The study's lead author, Rafael de Cabo, the chief of the Translational Gerontology Branch of the NIA Intramural Research Program, suggested that a longer fasting period may give the body more opportunity to adjust to the consumption of food.  

“Perhaps this extended daily fasting period enables repair and maintenance mechanism that would be absent in a continuous exposure to food,” de Cabo said.