MIT research reveals fasting helps people live longer

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May 11, 2018
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Since Ramadan is coming, giving your gut a break now can deliver huge health benefits.

The scientists at MIT, studying the intestinal cells in a lab found that fasting could improve cellular performance and may help people bounce back quicker from infections or cancer. Fasting has the potential to help patients recover from gastrointestinal infections and cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

New research from scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, reveals that why fasting is so beneficial at the cellular level. MIT has referred to the term “Calorie restriction”, a practice adopted by people from Silicon Valley biohackers to have a long list of positive effects.

Periodic fasting can help people prevent diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. Fasting can also help boost the production of a protein that strengthens connections in the brain and it also serves as an antidepressant. Scientists also think fasting can lengthen our lifespans by keeping cells healthy and youthful longer.

With technology advancing, we can now learn how our body performs from the inside when we fast in Ramadan. Fasting switches off the body’s simplest energy source such as the muscle-feeding glycogen that we typically get from eating carbohydrates. Take away carbs, and the body kicks into a kind of a starvation mode, tapping into fat stores and releasing ketone bodies produced by the liver.

Adult stem cells are builder cells as they can essentially repair and replace every kind of cell inside a tissue like an intestine.
Study author Omer Yilmaz,

“When a tissue becomes injured, this tissue needs to repair itself, Stem cells can generate all of the cell types. It’s been well known for probably more than 100 years that low-calorie states such as fasting, or caloric restriction often have beneficial effects on health, and in some cases on lifespan. Understanding the similarities and differences of these different types of low-calorie states we think is going to uncover some important biology that may ultimately promote human health.”

Having such healthy, highly productive stem cells that can regenerate tissue quickly is therefore vitally important to our health. More efficient stem cells, then, can more quickly repair intestinal damage and spur recovery from infections.

With technology getting to new heights, scientists can now finally understand more about the biological mechanisms at work in various fasting states and this could result in new cancer treatments.

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