How Fasting Keeps You Young

Performing Tai Chi with swords in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Science has known for some time that restricting the diet of mice and other animals prolongs their lives, and now researchers have figured out why.

They found that animals on a restricted diet had a more pronounced response to antioxidants and hardier livers.

The so called fast diet, which involves eating normally for five days and fasting for two, is currently popular.

In the latest study, Harvard School of Public Health researchers demonstrated that one week of dietary restriction increased antioxidant responses and protected mice from liver damage after the interruption of blood flow.

The protective effects on the liver were found to be triggered by increased production of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in cells – an effect caused by restricted intake of a pair of sulphur-containing amino acids

“These findings give us a better understanding of how dietary interventions extend lifespan and
protect against injury,” says Christopher Hine, a research fellow.

“More immediately, they could have important implications for what to eat and not to eat before a planned acute stress like surgery.”

The results of the study are published in the journal Current Biology.

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