Intermittent fasting keeps a part of the cell that greatly influences aging healthier, for longer, extending life. Fasting keeps the cell part, the mitochondria, in a state that prevents aging. The new discovery of how this anti-aging effect works could help scientists develop therapies to prevent age-related diseases, the researchers say.
Various forms of fasting have been getting hype (and hate) for everything from weight loss to productivity enhancement.
The jury is still out on some of the benefits and drawbacks of fasting, but the new Harvard study finally explains how intermittent fasting can keep the body ‘young’ at a cellular level.
Researchers at Harvard found that temporarily restricting diet keeps the mitochondria – an important part of the cell to health aging – in homeostasis, which in turn helps to improve lifespan.
Intermittent fasting helps to protect mitochondria, the ‘powerhouses’ of cells from aging, which can help to prevent the effects of aging on the body and extend life expectancies, according to new research from Harvard University.
Fasting is the new juicing lately, as celebrities like Benedict Cumberbatch and, reportedly, Beyonce and Silicon Valley executives alike extol the virtues of the 5:2 diet, which involves normal eating habits for five days a week, but dramatically intake on the other two days.
Some research has shown that intermittent fasting offers no benefits over daily dietary restrictions, but animal studies have found that it was linked to longer life spans.
Last year, Newcastle University research confirmed the crucial role of the mitochondria in human cell aging, and therefore, the aging of our bodies.
Mitochondria break down carbohydrates and fatty acids, giving energy to the cell. For this reason, they are often referred to as the ‘powerhouses’ of our cells. The Newcastle University researchers found that without their aged mitochondria, cells appeared younger.
Mitochondria exist in two states, and when they are alternating appropriately between these two states, they are in homeostasis.
The Harvard researchers found that mitochondria stay in homeostasis better when an organism – in their study, a nematode worm – has an intermittently restricted diet.
At the same time, being able to swing as they’re supposed to from on state to the other is key to the longevity-enhancing effects of intermittent fasting.
The researchers also found that intermittent fasting helped to coordinate the activities of the mitochondria with peroxisomes, other cell parts that have an antioxidant effect and contribute to longevity.
This newfound understanding of how fasting works at a cellular level could be a key to discovering therapies that could be beneficial to extending life expectancies and keeping the body younger.