A study has shown that fasting from food for 16 to 18 hours a day could be the solution to treating a variety of health conditions
A review of past animal and human studies in an article published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the oldest and one of the most prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals, proposes that intermittent fasting can reduce blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and improve longevity.
According to the study's co-author Mark Mattson, intermittent fasting usually falls into two categories
The Johns Hopkins University's neuroscience professor explained that the first method is daily time-restricted feeding, which narrows eating times to 6-8 hours per day, followed by fasting for 16-18 hours.
The other type is the 5:2 method, which consists of fasting twice a week, with a maximum of 500 calories consumed on a fasting day.
How intermittent fasting works
According to Mattson, alternating between fasting and eating can improve cellular health, most likely by triggering metabolic switching.
When metabolic switching occurs, cells use up their fuel stores and convert fat to energy, thus switching from fat-storing to fat-saving.
However, conclusions about intermittent fasting vary depending on the diet's effectiveness
Some animal and human studies have linked it to longer life expectancy, improved cardiovascular health, and better cognitive abilities.
For example, a 2018 research study discovered that three patients with type 2 diabetes were able to stop taking insulin after losing weight via intermittent fasting.
Another 2009 study found that older adults who were put on a calorie-restricted diet showed improved verbal memory compared to the two other groups who did not fast.
Nevertheless, the article's authors have pointed out that the results cannot be generalised to other groups
They highlighted that clinical studies largely focused on overweight, young, and middle age adults, thus further research is required before the benefits or risks of intermittent fasting can be stated confidently.