Does Fasting Enhance Longevity?

During the holidays, fasting may be the furthest thing from your mind. Once the Holidays are over, however, it may suddenly seem like an attractive option. Eating, as a basic activity of daily living, compensates for feelings of hunger and provides necessary nutrients to our physiological systems. Moreover, what we eat and how we eat can play a significant role in our health and well-being and may even impact longevity. Because of the significance of eating on well-being, diet interventions receive extensive attention in the media. Among different types of dietary interventions, fasting is emerging as the most significant; current research suggests that changing one’s eating habits by reducing caloric intake, when coupled with modifying meals schedules may delay or prevent the onset of many types of diseases and extend years of functionality to cells, tissues and organs.

Dr. Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute, has done numerous studies supporting the positive effects of fasting on longevity. The rationale of fasting to improve health can be explained, in part, by the Disposable Soma Theory, a major theory in  physiology of aging studies. This theory posits that the notion of senescence is the decrease in an organism’s ability to reproduce and causes a related increase in the chances it will die as it ages. It assumes that the body needs to budget and appropriate the energy for various tasks to maintain subsistence. In allocating energy for different physiological activities, there is a tradeoff between using it for reproduction or for cell, tissue or organ repair.

Excerpted from LA Weekly

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