American researchers have reviewed several human and animal studies to determine the effect of fasting on weight loss, life expectancy and other health indicators.
An article published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that intermittent fasting can reduce blood pressure, aid weight loss and improve longevity, based on a meta-analysis of studies conducted in humans and mice over the past few decades.
According to study co-author Mark Mattson, a professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States, intermittent fasting diets generally fall into two categories.
The first is a time-restricted diet, which narrow eating times to 6-8 hours per day, followed by 16-18 hour fasts. The second method consists of fasting on two consecutive days and eating normally for the rest of the week.
The chief finding of the meta-analysis: studies repeatedly show that intermittent fasting helps people lose weight, lower their blood pressure and extend their life expectancy.
A potentially effective method for the treatment of type 2 diabetes
Conclusions about intermittent fasting vary depending on the effectiveness of the diet, but some animal and human studies have linked the practice to longer life expectancy, improved cardiovascular health and better cognitive abilities.
A 2018 research study of a small sample found that three patients with type 2 diabetes were able to stop taking insulin after losing weight through intermittent fasting. Another 2009 study found that older adults who had been on a calorie-restricted diet had better verbal memory when compared to the other two groups who did not fast.
However, the authors of the study point out that clinical studies have largely focused on overweight young and middleage adults, and the results cannot be generalized to other groups. They highlight the need for further research before the benefit/risk balance of this type of diet can be affirmed with certainty.