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anniedeighnaugh

Fountain of youth and health?

7 years ago

Nutrition Action letter has an article about all the benefits of the 5:2 diet where you eat normally 5 days a week and then "fast" (600 cal/day for men; 500 cal/day for women) on 2 days a week. It has potentially beneficial effects for diabetes, cancer and memory....


Comments (50)

  • 7 years ago

    Interesting. When I was working I did the opposite. I watched my calorie intake during the week so that I could eat what I wanted on the weekends.

    These "fasting" diets seem to be popular right now.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Just to point out that Dr. Krista Varaday, whose work they used as the original inspiration for the 5:2, has a low opinion of this diet, because her work showed that you need to fast at least 3 days a week to get results. I believe she has taken legal action against them in the past, for misinterpreting her work.

    ETA The Verge has a good summary of her major study that just came out at the beginning of this month about the benefits of alternate-day fasting or lack thereof:

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/1/15499356/alternate-day-fasting-dieting-weight-loss-calorie-restriction-health

    So your Nutrition Action Letter may be a bit behind the fair.

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  • 7 years ago

    Man on man registering my disappointment here- can't even go one hour without a miracle fountain of youth being pulled apart... I will be waiting for the next one.

    Seriously wishing.

  • 7 years ago

    Aren't we all, sheilaaus? I do think that there might be something in the comments in the article by other doctors who advocate a true fast, as opposed to low calories, on fasting days, though.

  • 7 years ago

    Wow I can't imagine fasting for 2 let alone 3 days! I run 30-40 miles a week normally and run marathons I need to eat every 3-4 hours. lol I have a good friend who owns a successful juice cleanse business and she won't let me do a cleanse without adding food to it because she thinks it would be dangerous.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    she thinks it would be dangerous.

    The only time it's dangerous is when people take on an extended fast without the ability to maintain their regular levels of activity or with nutrient deficiencies. Some people died on the liquid protein diet back in the 70s, but studies found that they were seriously deficient in some mineral--copper, maybe (don't remember offhand), and that if you made sure those levels were okay, they could fast safely, but by then it was out that fasting would kill you and that was the end of any general interest in fasting for about 20 years.

    But there is also a thing called refeeding syndrome that can affect who fast imprudently, or who are malnourished when they start fasting, or who fast because of illness.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Wow I can't imagine fasting for 2 let alone 3 days!

    Oh, that was three alternate days, not three days at once, but I will say that I have done 42-hour fasting and it's not hard at all. For that, say you're starting on Sunday. So you eat your regular meals on Sunday and just don't eat anything after dinner. Then you fast on Monday. For Tuesday you just have coffee or whatever for breakfast and then your first meal is lunch. (ETA I do fast completely, just coffee or herb tea on fasting days, not the low-cal version.)

    My personal problem with a fasting diet is that I can only do it easily if I also do the low-carb high fat-diet and I find it difficult to eat that way on the eating days. But you do have plenty of energy and don't get hangry if you do LCHF.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The Nutrition Action Letter tends to look at a number of studies rather than just one. This NYT article links to the study that Mattson was involved in as well as one by Varaday as well as work done by Longo on fasting. It's not surprising that researchers may disagree. After all, that's what peer review is all about.

    And to the extent that people were dropping out of Varaday's study because they found it hard to stick with, perhaps the 5:2 would be more successful as it's easier to comply with and yet provide similar benefits.

    But clearly more work needs to be done, as always seems to be the case with nutrition, diets and health.

    I just thought the 5:2 sounded a lot easier than the people who go on the extreme calorie restriction as a way to increase health and longevity. In the OP article, they post example meals so the fasting days aren't a strict fast, but just very low calorie which would also be easier to do. No diet works if you can't stick with it.

  • 7 years ago

    so the fasting days aren't a strict fast, but just very low calorie which would also be easier to do.

    For me this is definitely not true (Varaday's "fasts" were also 500 calories/women, 600/men). I find it much easier to just not think about it.

    So again, different strokes. Different things work better for different people.

  • 7 years ago

    I have read that calorie restriction/maintaining a very low body weight is the key to longevity. Much easier said than done.

    Not surprisingly, experts don't always agree https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-hunger-gains-extreme-calorie-restriction-diet-shows-anti-aging-results/

  • 7 years ago

    If I were to fast I'd be passing out. Wait a week and another fad will be in your in-basket.

    One of my running partners who has a degree in Biology went on every fad diet that came along - a month on this one and then a month on that one.... She threw off her metabolism so badly she wound up under the care of a doctor.

    The problem with these diet suggestions is that most of the studies are controlled studies. Not only that, but most of us aren't doctors and don't have the knowledge or the research capabilities to understand the intricacies of how changing how we eat will affect us.

  • 7 years ago

    I am in the same boat as blfenton. If I go too long without eating, I get jittery and can't concentrate. I haven't passed out from low blood sugar in years but it has happened.

  • 7 years ago

    I just finished reading The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung. He was mentioned on the 10 pound thread. His book is very well researched and he uses fasting in his practice with obese and diabetic patients. I found it very interesting and there are a few things in there about how your body adapts to using stored energy(fat) during a fast and the benefits of this type of diet vs. lowering calories. I have been experimenting with intermittent fasting (6 hour eating window per day) and have found it remarkably easy. I plan to try a couple of longer fasts this week. Today I took an exercise class from a very tough instructor without eating prior and I felt great.

  • 7 years ago

    The other diet (fad?) I read about suggests eating all of your food within a 6 to 8 hour time span and not eating at all until the next day. Apparently it gives your body a mini fast and time to digest and void your food. Not sure where I read this but thought it was interesting. I have master cleanse fasted and found that easy.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think if one eats low carb/keto the fasting is easier because your body is already using ketones. I fast for a day at a time with no problem and eat keto the rest of the time. I do not eat 500 calories on my fast day.

    I did stop fasting every other day and now have a couple non fast days in between my fast days.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I remember reading a while back, research concerning the time of day food is consumed, I can't find it now but I think they got similar results to the fasting diet by cutting off all eating after 4 (or was it 2?) every day with no all day fasting. There is also fascinating research on gut bacteria.

    My personal fountain of youth/health is a plant based lifestyle without processed foods.

  • 7 years ago

    JMCK, I have read Fung's book and Varaday's.

    I'm a little suspect of Varaday's, because she basically has the easiest program. IIRC it boiled down to, one day have a Lean Cuisine at dinner and nothing else, the next day have whatever you feel like.

    Fung, IIRC, wants you to eat a very low carb diet when you do eat, and totally fast on the other days? I may be misremembering now.

    I find the science on the health bennies to very very intriguing, moreso than the weight impact. I am impressed that the research seems to be coming from highly regarded Unis and seems less about profits?

    As far as weight, I think any program one chooses, if followed, creates weightloss. What seems ill-advised to me is the demarcation between "something I will do to lose weight" and "what I am going to do after that".

    In a perfect world, the approach should be first, find a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet and habits that you find livable. Then, follow it. Whatever weight results is the right one for you.

  • 7 years ago

    Fung, IIRC, wants you to eat a very low carb diet when you do eat, and totally fast on the other days?

    Yes, that's right.

  • 7 years ago

    My brother, who has Type 2 diabetes, is doing Alternate Day Fasting, along with reducing carbohydrates. He tests his blood sugar levels every day, and now they are almost normal. Prior to Alternate Day Fasting, his blood sugar levels were never good. His doctor could not believe the results.

    This is from Dr. Fung's website:

    Alternate Daily Fasting (ADF)

    This is the dietary strategy that has the most research behind it. Much of it was done by Dr. Krista Varady, an assistant professor of nutrition with the University of Illinois – Chicago. She wrote a book about her strategy in The Every Other Day Diet, although this was not the blockbuster success of the 5:2 diet.

    Even though it sounds like you only eat every other day, it is not quite. You can eat up to 500 calories on fasting days, just like in the 5:2 diet. However, fasting days are done on alternate days rather than 2x per week so it is a more intensive regimen. The major advantage of this regimen is that more research is available on this regimen than any other.

    Dr. Fung

  • 7 years ago

    yeonassky - I think you are talking about intermittent fasting. It is more about giving your digestive system a break and is recommended by many WFPB Dr's. (such as Dr Furhman) also see this


    Dr peeke


    intermittent fasting article

  • 7 years ago

    In Fung's book he discusses the variety of ways in which one can fast. He advocates none exclusively but suggests tailoring the approach to the goals (weight loss, diabetes reversal, etc) and lifestyle. I liked that he presented possible options and research that demonstrated the consequences/benefits to the body. For fasts longer than 36 hours he recommends having bone broth for the mineral and fat content and taking a multivitamin. I like that he does not prescribe a one size fits all.

  • 7 years ago

    I agree with the comment that fasting is pretty easy if you are already doing a low carb diet. I've been fasting completely from food for 32 hours twice a week and can do it very easily. That's dinner one day, then no food the next day, followed by breakfast on the third day. On the fast day I am not hungry at all, and I have a ton of energy and feel clear headed. I do drink my normal amount of coffee in the morning; then water for the rest of the day. Again, it is an easy and natural thing for me to do. I would not do it if it made me feel ill or unable to carry out my normal work day.

  • 7 years ago

    The June 5th issue of Time magazine (at least the Canadian edition) has a big article on dieting and why they work and/or don't work. The one thing that they do state is that not every diet will work for everyone. It's an interesting article.

  • 7 years ago

    Watch the Today Show today and tomorrow. I just missed part of the segment but I believe they were talking about the mediterranean diet. Maria Schriver traveled with the author of a new book about this lifestyle. Not only do these people live long lives, studies have shown in their area that dementia is much, much lower than many other areas. Greens, beans, whole grains and nuts are the mainstays of this diet. They were on an isle in Greece today, but there will be a segment tomorrow from another place they visited. Today.com will have some of the recipes.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Not only do these people live long lives, studies have shown in their area that dementia is much, much lower than many other areas

    FWIW, Fung points out that religious beliefs in the area mean that traditionally they fast a lot, too.

  • 7 years ago

    I wonder how much fast food they eat or how many hours of tv a week they watch. It just isn't about diet, it's also about lifestyle.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I wonder how much fast food they eat

    Well, to be fair, the current American generation with dementia problems didn't eat fast food much, either. Not saying that it can't be a factor, but you have to admit that people who are 80+ now didn't spend their lives eating from the drive-through. Heck, even when I was a kid that was a rare indulgence, not like it is now, and people who went out to eat could still afford to eat in real restaurants in my childhood.

  • 7 years ago

    My mom has Alzheimers and the mainstays of her diet were not greens, whole grains, beans or nuts. While healthy by her generations standards it was still based on white flour, white rice and beef.

    There are a myriad of studies and research trying to address Alzheimers and why my mom has it is anyone's guess. Will I get it is also anyone's guess.


  • 7 years ago

    I saw the second segment (KL and Hoda). I don't think the area they showed today would have much access to fast food, I wonder even about tv. It was a little village and they were definitely not sedentary. Maybe it was just an island village where they don't have cars - I didn't see that segment from the beginning, so I don't know. It did show people walking to the market. Another interesting thing they have found dealing with dementia is that people in this particular "blue zone" live together. Generations. They do not put their elderly in nursing homes, assisted living, etc. I would guess they don't have them in this particular area but the comment was made about how many elderly here in the states are alone/lonely and this played into dementia (who gets it). Maria Schriver did a cooking segment and she talked about how it was said just adding a cup of beans to your diet daily could add to your life span. She has been trying to do that. These people eat little meat, sugar or processed foods. The study and book was done on the "blue zones" around the world, clusters/areas where people tend to live longer. I'm not sure if the book has come out yet, would be very interesting.

  • 7 years ago

    Maybe this veering too much off course but anyone following the paleo diet will not eat beans or whole grains. The paleo diet seems to be very popular at least among people I have talked to

  • 7 years ago

    This might be the book you are thinking of - I read it a year or so ago and I believe the cup of beans was one of the key findings throughout all the areas found to be Blue Zones. I have always loved beans and eat them almost every day, so I was happy to hear that piece of advice!
    Blue Zone book

  • 7 years ago

    Thank you legomom, apparently he has several books. He has one that goes on sale today - that's the one they were talking about on Today and Maria traveled with him to some of the sites. Blue Zone Solution. I think I'll order it. blue zone solution

  • 7 years ago

    That looks interesting! I might order it too. Thanks for the link.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    For those of you who are worried about it, just to point out that dementia rates are dropping sharply in recent years and I doubt that the current crop of 80 year olds cared much about whole grains, either, although I realize that's no consolation to those currently dealing with this awful problem in your family.

    And for those of you who are floundering in the 10lb Challenge, fat/obese people are 30% less likely to get dementia, despite their other health problems:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/21/health/dementia-rates-united-states.html?_r=0

  • 7 years ago

    I work with someone who has been continually on one form of these diets or another. In 20 years I think she has lost between 300 and 400 lbs., but problem is that it's the same 300-400 lbs she's gained in the same about of time.

    I am extremely skeptical of any and all diets and restrictions that do not have a religious or cultural basis (and perhaps must be followed to be observant) or that do not involve an actual lifestyle change. I don't see the point in constantly trying something new and different to chase the same 20 lbs over and over. And I am not someone who is genetically predisposed to be thin and can essentially maintain with minimal effort who looks down on people who have to watch their weight.

  • 7 years ago

    I'm very interested in the health benefits of fasting and I'm going to learn more. What I have always done (this is going to sound overly simplistic) when I trend toward overeating and start to gain is this: every single thing I plan on eating, I divide in half and throw half away before I even begin. Meals, cookies, popsicles, everything. I gained almost twenty pounds while taking an antidepressant and was less active than a sloth all winter. I've increased my activity a little but not much. But I have ruthlessly thrown away a little more than half of anything I eat since April 2. Every single thing. I cooked a Hello Fresh pasta meal tonight and fed half of my nicely plated meal to the trash can before I sat down to eat. I'm never hungry or feel deprived and I've lost about 18lbs since April 2.

    I know myself. I'm never ever going to count carbs or not eat refined sugar. I'm going to eat cake from scratch with real buttercream occasionally. But..... I really try to "eat clean" most of the time with lots of fruit and veggies. If I get off my butt and make some muscle, the "eat only half" rule works even faster. But stretching and moderate walks are all that's going to be on the exercise agenda for a little while. So I'm discarding a little more than half of whatever I'm about to eat.


  • 7 years ago

    I read the Blue Zones Solution book. It's been out for a while, they must just be releasing it in paperback. It's very good, lots of great information.

  • 7 years ago

    Cattyles,

    According to Dr. Fung, low calorie diets tend to fail after a while because one's metabolic rate is decreased by the body in response to the lowered calories. According to him, this drop in metabolic rate does not happen while fasting. Of course, you have to do what is best for you, but I applaud that you are prepared to at least look into fasting.

    There's no question that cutting calories can cause weight loss, but there is also no question that many people gain this weight back. Dr. Fung seems to think that this is not a matter of moral weakness or lack of trying, but of the differing body response to low calories vs no calories.

    Is this just another fad? I don't know, but the information is certainly interesting and to me, worth reading without prejudice.

  • 7 years ago

    I always wonder about the role of genetics though...DH's grandmother made it to 106 and before she left Slovakia, as a young girl, she had to help care for her grandfather who was 102. Won't know about DH for quite a while, but he is covered in moles which is associated with delayed aging. He is regularly mistaken for a man 15 years younger than he is.

  • 7 years ago

    Hmmm, I never knew being covered in moles (ugh!) was associated with delayed aging. My grandmother lived to 98, my grandfather to mid-80's, but my mom, their daughter, died at 72. My grandmother had dementia. My dad is 86 and has long living relatives, but not his parents. I'm not trying to live to 100 but it is very interesting (to me) how a way of eating can provide good health and longevity. The idea of eating less of course is a good thing. I would hate to be throwing away so much food though. Maybe you could share or save the portions? And of course Pal, your ideas are dead on, it's a life style change. I definitely think I need to be eating more beans though!

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I don't know about longevity... my own food plan is just a study/N of one (me). I'm still around so... for ME it works.

    Using the blood workups, and the fact I haven't had angina-like symptoms for years (they weren't fully able to determine YES angina or NO angina in me, but those symptoms are gone... and triglycerides and the HDL/LDL ratios are well below normal... and have only improved since I went "real food"...

    I eat mostly "real food", and I don't count calories. I did use an online tracking service when I first started out, just to understand my eating habits. I learned to bring the majority of lunch food to work, not rely on the "heart-healthy" carb/starch fortified lunches at work. Which led me to bring just about everything from home to work during the week (Sundays became cooking sessions). I ditched my favorite junk food - potato chips!

    Seasonings and spices are your friends! "Ethnic" foods are your friends! I eat whole milk products ... but I do limit dairy. Apparently, they add excipients and sugars to lower-fat milk products, and keep in mind that WHOLE milk is about 3.5% fat, NOT 100%, as those other products will often mislead you into believing.

    Depriving yourself won't work long term (one, not sustainable, which is why so many diets fail in the end, and also why metabolism strikes up to "help" out), but I do understand there is some health benefit in eating within an 8 hour time frame in a day, and fasting overnight. Will have to experiment!

  • 7 years ago

    While no one likes to waste food, as a practical matter, your eating everything on your plate isn't the major issue with food waste in the world. I agree with the simplicity of halving everything, esp if you don't have a lot of good choices. I always look at restaurant portions and imagine what my family would say if I served that to them at home. They'd think I had three heads!

  • 7 years ago

    Thank you boopadaboo. Yes that looks like the information I read. It's not the same thing as cutting calories which I've come to believe is a problem because if you lose weight on Lower calories it seems like you regain that weight. I more like the idea that you use exercise like weightlifting to displace the fat with muscle so to speak. At least that is what has happened for me.

  • 7 years ago

    I have not walked out of a local restaurant in years without half of everything I was served in a bag (except soup).

    We were in Manhattan for a day over the weekend, I ate all my breakfast at a diner (which was not huge it was an old-school diner--but still I would have taken half of it home, at home) and all of the early dinner. I was not hungry the next day.

    ----

    I think genetics plays a huge role. My paternal grandfather had terrible childhood nutrition and lived to be 87, no dementia. He was working in a coal mine at 12. My paternal grandmother was poorly controlled hypertension and type II diabetes most of her adult life and lived to be 96. Once she was in care the hypertension and diabetes went away. She did have dementia but it was probably due to the hypertension and diabetes that were uncontrolled because of her eating habits.

    My dad is 93, and has some memory issues. But in middle age he was significantly overweight, he had hypertension and diabetes and cholesterol with spotty control even though he was a physician. He over-ate and he was a heavy social drinker by today's standards. (Beer almost daily, lots of beer at least one weekend night.) He could live to be 100 if he wants to.

    So I am not sure that diet has a lot to do with longevity if the genetics are there. I think it may have something to do with longevity with less related health issues like memory problems or dementia.

  • 7 years ago

    I tend to agree with Pal regarding the relative futility of diets and restrictions that do not involve a lifestyle change. I do know people who have greatly improved their health and well-being, but their transformation always combined a radically different approach to food and fitness, moving away from what had been established patterns of a lifetime. That's something that takes tremendous focus and determination, and I applaud anyone who successfully implements a new way of life in that regard.

    This is going a bit OT perhaps, but lately I've been thinking of my own tendency to respond to what I perceive as "hunger." I'm aware of how I have probably never truly been hungry a day in my life, but any pangs that I feel are a response to cravings or learned behavior (i.e., if I usually eat lunch at noon but am not able to eat until later, it isn't actually hunger I'm feeling, but more likely a psychological response to a disruption in my routine that manifests itself in a growling tummy). I'm making an effort to be more mindful of when I eat and how I'm feeling when I sit down to do it. This hasn't quelled the cravings, but has simply made me more cognizant of what they are when they hit.

    Our medical mission to Panama is coming up next month, and we're continuing to learn about the indigenous people that we'll serve while there. In learning Spanish phrases, we are advised that we cannot instruct our patients to take their medication with meals, as they have no established eating routines like we do. In fact, while the children are fed at least one meal daily at their school, many of the adults go two or three days without a meal. Thinking of this causes me to remember a friend who likes to say that she's "hangry" when her mealtime is delayed for any reason, and that launches a whole thought process that I won't go into here. Suffice it to say that our culture on the whole has some very strange ideas when it comes to food intake.

  • 7 years ago

    I too get hangry. :) I know it as angry + hungry. I get dizzy and see black spots very quickly even before I know I'm hungry. I haven't fainted in years as I always carry a tin of sardines. Have tried everything but sardines works the quickest for me.

    I agree genetics plays a big roll in our ability to live longer but it's only 10% according to the below 2009 Ted talk.

    He's pretty depressing though about extending life beyond 100. He talks about the blue zone. He says that older people are celebrated in the blue zone. I want to be adopted by them. :) They even have groups of friends built into their system in Okinawa. I'm not in a group other than here. That sounds nice.

    The other talk is about a mutation which causes people and worms to live long and be healthier.

    Dan Buettner TED talk

    Cynthia Kenyon TED talk

  • 7 years ago

    They have done some studies that show aging is very much affected by prenatal and early childhood nutrition. One of the reasons why so many civil war soldiers were small and suffered with diseases of the aged like arthritis is, they think, due to poor nutrition early on. They saw some similar effects in the babies during the 1918 flu epidemic where food became scarcer.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think it is environmental as well as genetics. Lifestyle plays a key role as well. (Healthy eating, smoking, drinking.)

    When I look at my family, there does not seem to be a commonality of life span. Some lived to be in their 80's and 90's others only to their 60's.

    Is there anyone here on this forum who has whole generations of long-lived relatives? Parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins etc?


  • 7 years ago

    My maternal great-grandmother lived until she was 94, my maternal grandmother until she was 84 and my mom is still alive at 88 and her brother is 83 and still going strong.

    My DH's maternal grandparents both lived into their early 90's, (his dad died in an accident in his mid-40's) and his mom is still going strong at 89.

    We have strategically been saving our pennies since our early 40's in planning for a long life.

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